Jenni Oliver, the Edgartown painter and illustrator whose graceful work appeared on covers of The New Yorker, died at home at on Oct. 29. The cause was complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

She was 70 and had lived at Sweetened Water Farm with her husband Edly for more than four decades, in a home he built, surrounded by gardens Jenni tended with a passion.

“I find that the best things come when you have a passion for them,” she told the Gazette in a 1983 interview.

Jennifer Clark Low was born Nov. 9, 1944, in Bloomington, Ind., the daughter of Ruth and Joseph Low. Ruth had been a writer and contributor to the Gazette and Joseph was an artist with New Yorker cover credits to his name, in whose shoes Jenni would later follow. The Lows had long ties to the Vineyard and built a house in Chilmark in the early 1970s.

Jenni Oliver at home in Edgartown. — Nina Bramhall

After a childhood in Taos, N.M. and Connecticut, Jenni did a brief stint at Guilford College in North Carolina, followed later by enrollment at the Massachusetts College of Art in Cambridge where she obtained a degree in graphic arts. She met Edly in North Carolina and introduced him to the Vineyard. They lived for a number of years in Cambridge, moving to the Island in 1968. For the first five years they rented a garden cottage at Fourway in Vineyard Haven, before building their house at one of the first Vineyard Open Land Foundation-sponsored lots at Sweetened Water Farm in Edgartown.

Jenni’s first New Yorker cover appeared in September 1975, a scene on a summer porch with a rocker and two bowls of green beans. As would become her signature, the painting had no people in it.

In the Gazette interview, just after her twelfth cover had been published (a summery painting of the Clough house on William street in Vineyard Haven) Jenni recalled that the scenes without people began at the suggestion of her art director at the magazine. “I remember showing him something from my portfolio,” she said. “There was a woman standing at a gate with lots of morning glories. And he suggested, ‘Why don’t you try something like this without the person in it?’ So I did one and I started to get intrigued by the whole idea, the mystery of it.”

She painted what she loved, scenes of Vineyard life and nature. In all, the New Yorker purchased 35 of her paintings for cover art, 28 of which were published. She also painted animal and pet portraits. One notable work was done as a surprise for Harold Rogers, a gift from his wife Marjory Manter, and included as many family pets as would fit. There were also book illustrations, such as Rabbit Tales, January Brings the Snow and My Name is Emily.

Jenni’s garden at Sweetened Water was a work of art in itself, and her love of flowers was matched by her love of animals. A murder of crows was fed every morning. A small Guernsey, Day Lily, pictured on the cover of January Brings the Snow, was adopted and kept in a stall in the Sweetened Water barn. When Day Lily had her first calf, there was an all-night vigil at the barn, until a small calf (named Ken after a favorite young friend of the Olivers) was born. But when Day Lily took to leaping the Sweetened Water fences to keep company with cows down the road at Morning Glory Farm, she was moved to Fred Fisher’s farm in West Tisbury. Jenni visited every week and Day Lily would come running to her call.

In the Gazette interview, she talked about the influence of nature on her work and also the creative obstacles the Island can pose to artists. “If you’re not self disciplined this is a great place to come and not produce,” she said. “Even if you come to the Vineyard thinking that you’re very self sufficient and independent, you soon realize that you aren’t, that you need stimulation. I think for me, anyway, the stimulation becomes nature. When nothing else is happening, you’re more aware of the weather, of the seasons. In the city, it can be February and cold and rainy, and you know you could go to a museum or visit some fascinating little shop. So it doesn’t matter what the weather is. Here, it does matter what the weather is.”

Diagnosed about a year ago with ALS, Jenni was brave and resolute, taking to the internet to communicate with family and friends. She has donated her body to ALS research.

In addition to her husband of 50 years, she is survived by a sister, Damaris Botwick of Chatham, N.Y.; her sister in law Annette Smith, brother in law Theodore Oliver and sister and brother in law Susan and Bill Coxe, all of Charlotte, N.C.

A memorial gathering is being planned for the future.