Growing up in a liberal community outside of Washington, D.C., Cindy Kane began her artistic life as a drawer. “I always had my hand on a pen,” she said. She is now a painter, but said aspects of her early art are still present in her work today. “My art has always been narrative, never abstract,” she said. “I’ve always been a storyteller in my paintings.”

She has no formal training, only her own experiences to guide her. She graduated from high school one year early and followed a boyfriend to Austin, Tex., with promises to her parents that she would enroll, as he was, in college. Instead, she travelled with her boyfriend, an avid spelunker, to Mexico where together they mapped Indian caves. “Those ancient shapes followed me in my visual art for years,” she said.

She swears she was never a student, but the claim is evidently false. Her kitchen has more books than spices, newspapers lie on the table where place mats should be and her car radio is always tuned to NPR. She speaks with insatiable curiosity and is well informed on everything from the history of her Vineyard Haven property (it was once a horse farm) to the state of affairs in Iraq. School may have not been from her, but learning was. And so she traveled from Mexico to Belize and Guatemala, soaking up everything she could along the way. Then she began what she calls her urban life. She moved to Paris for a year and then to Berkeley, Calif., where her life as a professional artist got its start. “This was all during the Reagan years,” she said. “They were great years to be in the art world with all the corporate money.”

From California, she moved to New York city and took up residence on a house boat with her husband. They had a daughter there and, when she was three, the couple decided they were ready for small town life. Neither had visited Martha’s Vineyard before and they knew no one here, but they decided to check it out. “We felt we belonged here when we first stepped foot on the ferry,” Ms. Kane said. They arrived on Island and their first night here, they placed an offer on a house. The family — there are four of them now — still lives in that house. Ms. Kane has her studio there and her husband, a carpenter, has his below it. Their children go to the Island schools. “We had an immediate, intuitive bond with the place itself,” Ms. Kane said.