Frame of Mind: June Ainsworth - The Bend Magazine

Frame of Mind: June Ainsworth

Inside the mind and visual world of Rockport painter, June Ainsworth.

photo of Rockport artist, June Ainsworth

June Ainsworth photographed in her Rockport home studio | Photography by Matthew Meza

After a lifetime as a geologist, June Ainsworth still traces maps of images beneath what most eyes can see. In many ways, Ainsworth equally credits her aptitude for creating images and her profession in mapping the earth as each having influence over the other—a classic “chicken or the egg” conundrum. Even in still images, Ainsworth weaves her way through different approaches to the canvas, like contouring peaks and valleys on a map, with seasoned skill.

 A native of north Texas, Ainsworth recalled growing up in a family with practical ideas but creative sensibilities. “My mother used to make all our clothes,” she said, calling back to a pair of memorable patterned coats fashioned for her and her twin sister, Jane. “I don’t think my mother thought of this as art, but really she was fairly creative.” 

In her high school days in Dallas, Ainsworth would ride the streetcar across town on Saturday mornings to attend art class at the Dallas Museum of Art, where she studied watercolors. Eventually, she would go on to the University of Oklahoma to earn a science degree with a focus on geology.

 “I got a job as a geologist in Kansas right out of college, which was rare then: to be a girl geologist. We were considered kind of an oddity,” Ainsworth said, noting she and her twin were both geologists. “I love making maps. You could use your imagination, but you still had to have these content numbers. I think the art thing was good for me, taking all these numbers and making something beautiful.”

 After a full career, as well as a life raising children, Ainsworth spent time living in Kansas and then Long Island before settling down in South Texas to set up a home base. An active resident of Fulton, Ainsworth has made the community on the water her muse over the last two decades. She credits her time in the Coastal Bend as the most productive in her painting career, having created most of her work in the last 10 years.

 In the bright hues of Ainsworth’s paintings, she points a keen eye at a life lived along the coast, encasing these moments in oil on canvas. Throughout her seaside residence and studio, artifacts of working and living are found in every cranny and crevice. Each painting lining the walls forms a piece of a timeline that takes visitors across Ainsworth’s life and the evolution of her work, which oscillates between schools of pure impressionism and abstract works with impressionist features. Ainsworth’s paintings display a range of styles, each showcasing different facets of beloved subjects.

 Her studio is tidy, with signs of persistent work — covert stacks of oil studies tucked neatly into corners of the room. The skylit space is an assured heaven for any artist. And although the comfort of a studio is convenient, Ainsworth prefers to begin her works en plein air. The ideal painting day for her is on the waterfront, close to sunset, when the sky is flushed with color. 

I like to push color and shapes,” Ainsworth said of her more abstract works. “Not everyone sees the world this way, but I like to see all these designs come together to tell a story.”

 In Rockport’s thriving artistic community, she finds inspiration and a drive to keep creating. A familiar and favored face among those who frequent the Rockport Center for the Arts, Ainsworth expresses great pride in the strides the community has made in becoming a haven for nurturing creativity.

 Staying busy is easy for Ainsworth, who keeps at least one goal each day: to paint. “I’m still just going strong, [I am] nearly 90,” she said with a laugh. “But somehow I just keep painting. It’s so much fun, it keeps me going.”

Ainsworth’s work can be found in Rockport’s Wind Way Gallery alongside other artists of the coastal collective.


Next up in the “Frame of Mind” feature is Leandra Urrutia.