The artwork and shared thoughts of Jennifer Moltoni.
Jennifer is a local artist from Melrose, MA. Her work will be on exhibit at the Melrose Arts Festival on April 26-28, 2013.
A: I’ve lived in Melrose since 2007. I have these wonderful big, old trees on my street and I find myself taking pictures of the branches, which seem to either influence or become incorporated into my artwork.
Q: Do you have any formal training?
A: Not really. I had to take a couple of theater-design classes in college as part of my degree program. We had to draw, take pictures, think about the how and why of designs, and do various projects. I remember that one of our final projects was to design and build a chair. The chair could be made out of anything we wanted, and the only requirement was that the instructor would need to be able to sit in it — without the chair breaking. None of us had ever built a chair before, and we were given no instructions on how to do it. We just had to make it up as we went along. It was stressful, because we were being graded — and we didn’t want our chairs to break when the instructor sat on them — but it was also fun.
Q: What is your current work about?
A: There are two main areas of my current work:
The Cut Outs (2011 – present)
This series started because two of my dearest friends remembered an art project that I had done in a French class in high school (I’d made a bunch of pictures in an attempt to get out of doing a written report). They were expecting their first child and asked me to create something similar to that project for their new baby’s nursery. I enjoyed creating these pictures for them so much that I have been doing it ever since. I paint large pieces of paper using acrylic/gouache/watercolor paints and then cut the paper up into random shapes and paste these shapes onto canvas or canvas board. I cut up photographs and use those too sometimes. These pictures are fun to make because I’m never really sure what each picture will be until the end, but they mostly feature animals or boats. I think that the more that I do these, the more open my mind is to what shapes can actually become.
Beaches & Branches (2010 – present)
These works are made up of several canvas panels and acrylic paint. When I am creating these, I am thinking of colors, the ocean, sand, seaweed, shells, trees, and sky. This project has evolved from my weekly visits to the beach and the pictures that I take when I’m there. I really enjoy taking random pictures of things and then thinking about creating something that combines the elements of what I’ve seen. I also tend to obsess over some object that I’ve stumbled upon –- a shell, or a piece of seaweed –- and then, the overall theme of the painting becomes my re-creation of that object.
Q: What advice do you have for younger artists, particularly local ones?
A: Doing a little bit of art every day can be helpful. I can’t always do art every day, but if I’m not doing art, I’m thinking about it. Living in the moment is important, as is becoming a good observer. Try to really see what’s around you, and use that. Try to avoid the urge to self-edit –- if you give yourself permission to be as free as possible in your artwork, it can produce very interesting results.
Q: What is your artistic process? How do you get your creative juices flowing?
A: In general, I get inspired by things that I see randomly – tree branches, seaweed, sea shells, twisted metal, colors, etc. My processes are varied.
When I do my cut outs, I’m never really sure what I will end up with – I just let the random shapes I’ve created guide me. I’ll go through times when I’ll do 2 or 3 of these kinds of pictures a day for a couple of days in a row, and then I’ll put everything away for maybe a week or two. Then, when I feel that it’s time to create more, I’ll dump out some of the old shapes that I cut out earlier and didn’t use, or the pieces of paper that I painted and didn’t cut up, and see if anything moves me.
When I do my larger acrylic work, my process takes a long time. Each step takes a few days, and there tend to be lots of pauses between each step that I take. I’m usually inspired by, say, how the waves looked at the beach one day, or a cool shell that I found – something like that. First, I’ll map it out, and decide the size and which canvases I’ll use. Then, I’ll work on it a bit, hate it, put it away, take it back out, re-discover its potential, and continue painting. Repeat.
Q: What do you do when you’re not working on art?
A: I’m a mom, and so I’m always doing a bunch of kid- and family-related stuff. I work full-time at a university. I try to exercise a little every day. I spend lots of time in the kitchen. I usually go to the beach at least once a week, and I spend time with friends whenever possible. Laughter is important. Having fun is important.