The shared thoughts and artwork of Lisa Goren.

Lisa’s work will be on exhibit at the Melrose Arts Festival on April 26-28, 2013.

Antarctica Rocks

Q. The majority of your work is inspired from a visit to Antarctica. Have you always been interested in Antarctica? Why did you visit?

I was one of those kids who read a lot when growing up. For me, I just couldn’t get enough of the stories of Arctic and Antarctic explorers. Most of these stories were from the Historic Age of Exploration (or the late 19th and early 20th centuries). I have to say that I really didn’t encounter any Jewish women from NYC in any of the adventures and yet, I totally saw myself as being able to do the same thing. So, for me, I’ve always loved the winter and been interested in the Polar Regions. I didn’t get to go to Antarctica until I was in my 30’s and already had a very different career. Frankly, I didn’t realize you could actually go as a tourist. Once I saw that you could go, I saved up and headed South as fast as I could.  I never thought of myself as an artist but I knew I wanted to paint the ice. So that was my beginning as both a Polar adventurer and an artist.

Q. How has experiencing and seeing Antarctica influenced your artistic vision?

Experiencing and seeing  was a life-changing trip. The landscapes are not things you normally see, even in tough New England winters. It takes so long to get there (4 days) and it’s a fairly difficult journey (the sea is very rough) so that you feel like you’ve gone through a sort of decompression chamber by the time you’re there. In terms of my art, these views brought my artistic vision to the surface. I knew that I wanted to bring some of what I saw there back home.

Q. You have another collection of paintings inspired by Alaska. What drives your fascination with ice and these cold climate surroundings?

Really, I’ll go to any cold climate you offer to me! I love the light, the clarity of the air, and even the bundling up to experience the cold. After the birth of my son, it was really not possible for me to consider another Antarctica trip. Alaska was the first opportunity I had to get back to the cold. We went in the summer and to see the glaciers while the sun is shining and it’s fairly warm, was a very different experience.

Q. How has your experience and artistic focus on Antarctica effected your view of colors and light here at home?

Many people will disagree with me, but I’ve loved this winter. We’ve had a lot of crisp beautiful days that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I love walking in the Arboretum in Jamaica Plain and looking at the colors of the trees and the sky. Perhaps one of the things you notice in Antarctica is the unbelievable blues in the ice (at least I did). This is a color we just don’t see here naturally. And it’s possible that my trips have led me to see the color blue, in particular, in new way. Our winter skies in New England are stunning. So, maybe that’s something I’ve noticed more since I’ve been to Antarctica.

Blue Seam, Alaska

Q. What quality of Antarctica is the hardest to capture/reflect in your paintings?

Now that I’ve mentioned the blues, I’d have to say those are some of the hardest to capture. I think that there are many amazing photographers of the Arctic and Antarctica, but seeing those blues in real life is a very different experience. One other thing I noticed when I was in Antarctica was when we were looking at hundreds of elephant seals sunning themselves on the beach. The amount of browns could never be captured – it was just astonishing.

Q. Do you feel the color “white” even actually exists in the world? 

 As a watercolorist, you rarely (if ever) use white when you’re painting. Generally, the white is the paper itself – an absence of added color. To me, there were moments of brilliant white but they are mostly about contrast to the colors around them. It’s very rare for me to leave the paper just white because all of the snow and ice that I’ve seen has other colors of tremendous subtlety. So, do I think the color white exists? I’m not sure because so much of what we see is about what is next to it. It’s more about brightness, I think, than actual white. And, of course, any snow or ice is actually clear – the color we see is based on which light waves can go through it and which light waves bounce off. You could chop off a piece of that beautiful blue ice, put it in a glass and it would look like a regular ice cube.

Q. You are currently working on a series of 300 paintings of whale bones from abandoned whaling stations in Antarctica. Can you share more details regarding this project?

I have been working on my project of 300 paintings of whale bones from abandoned whaling stations for many years now. I’m not a particularly prolific painter – I’m only in the 30’s right now. I had no idea that when I was traveling to Antarctica we’d stop at an abandoned whaling station. But when we did, it was incredibly haunting. The bones were just discarded and left on the beach. As these stations have closed long ago, the bones will be left until the wind can erode them. The number 300 was chosen because at their lowest point, it was estimated that there may only have been 300 blue whales left in the Southern Seas (down from a population of over 300,000 – we know that number because that’s the number of blue whales “harvested” from about 1905 to 1965). This is a very slow recovery and I wanted to point that out with my paintings, I hope to raise awareness of these animals and the important struggle to keep them alive.

Q. You are planning to return to The Arctic Circle this September. Can you tell us more about this new project, “Open Water in the Arctic”? And what you hope to accomplish while there?

This September I’ll be heading to well above the Arctic Circle with an artist residency. There will be 20 other artists and scientists on a 3-mast sailboat and we will sail for 2 ½ weeks. This will be the closest I’ll ever have been to either pole (within 500 miles). In addition, the time spent with all these other well-established artists and scientists who share a fascination with the Polar Regions will be amazing. My project, “Open Water in the Arctic” is about continuing my work painting sea ice, which is different from icebergs in that icebergs come from glaciers (fresh water) and sea ice is frozen salt water. My paintings of pack ice are full of pieces of sea ice but there is less and less as the earth warms. I’m hoping my paintings will inspire people because they can see the beauty of this ice and, hopefully, learn the importance of trying to save it.

Q. What advice would you give to other emerging artists?

In terms of giving advice? Well, I’m not a full time artist. I’m a full time mom and I’ve been able to pursue my work in and around my other “duties.” I think what I’d say is that I knew that I’d always do interesting things, and go as far north or south as I could within the confines of a vacation here and there. I could never have imagined this upcoming trip, however. It’s too big to even have dreamt it. And so my advice would be, keep plugging away. Do what you love when you can. It’s worth it even if you don’t get a trip like mine – you’ll still have done what you loved, right?

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.

Moltoni_seagulls3_8_5_12Q: What is your connection to Melrose? How has the area shaped your art?

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.

The shared thoughts and artwork of Tracy Levesque.

Tracy is a visiting artist from Lowell, MA. Her work will be on exhibit at the Melrose Arts Festival on April 26-28, 2013.


Q. What does Art mean to you?

Art is life itself in its truest expression. Nature is constantly creating, evolving and changing and so is art. As human beings we can’t help but respond to the changes we see going on around us and recreate them in our own little universes. An artist embodies this creation on a very small and individual scale in comparison to nature, but I think art is a very innate expression for human beings. Creativity is as natural as breathing and as essential.

Q. What role did art play in your life as a child?

Art was (and still is) to me what Oz was to Dorothy and what Wonderland was to Alice – a wonderful world completely of my own creation.

Q. As a self-taught artist, how did you develop your talent and artistic perspective?

I grew up in a creative environment where drawing and making things were the normal everyday activities. My parents and grandparents encouraged my sisters and I to read, draw, use our imaginations and spend time outdoors playing in and observing nature. I was always in love with the magic of our world; the uniqueness of people’s faces, the beauty and color in their expressions, landscapes and trees and of course, the mystical moon. I practiced painting these things over and over until I found my own way of seeing. Later, I read every book I could find on the technical aspects of drawing and painting as my interest in the arts grew. I also asked working artists lots of questions on technique and process. I researched the work of artists I loved and started to understand where and how inspiration could be funneled into technique. Experience, in the end, is always the best teacher. Life takes us all on an amazing journey and we can pick choose what we let into our own personal world and as an artist, this is the most important part of the process. Life, more than any school, technique or person, is ultimately what makes an artist.


Q. How do you interpret life through your art?

I use the color, texture and line to evoke and emotional response from the viewer. People have a strong reaction to bright color – it truly makes them feel happy. I use the line and texture to draw them in – they follow the lines and get lost in the textures. It makes them think about what they are looking at because even though they may know what it is, it’s a fresh and rather unconventional interpretation that sparks their imagination.

Q. Through the capture of nature and life, your paintings balance fantasy with reality? What influenced this?

We all love to dream, but no matter how fantastical the dream, it’s always rooted in reality. I started out as a realistic artist staying close to the traditional interpretations of landscape and portraiture, but over time this process evolved organically and I moved further away from realism into the kind of work I do now. I think it’s important to learn to draw things properly in the beginning and be true to nature before you find your own voice. I believe realism is important in the sense that people need to recognize what they are looking at in a painting, but I think that is all that is necessary. I have always loved to read and I think that has influenced my work a great deal. I love telling stories through my work and inspiring people to see something special in everything. Like I said before, people like to dream, they like to be happy and be surrounded by beauty and I think when a person looks at a painting they should be completely whisked away into an enchanted world filled with magic. Reality is everywhere and too much so nowadays, so it’s important that a painting should take you back to your imagination. For instance, I paint a lot of birch trees and people always know that they are looking at birch trees but then, they find something else there between the expressive lines and exaggerated colors – they find a personal memory or a place they once knew and they are happy. I feel the same thing when I paint. I love these beautiful places that the world is full of and I want to share them with the world.


Q. Your work displays an importance to lines and abstract shapes. How do you relate this to what you are capturing?

If you look close enough at nature, everything has texture and is abstracted in a way. Leaves become seas of color and tree bark transforms into geometrical patterns climbing towards the sky. When you are standing in a forest all your senses come into play, not just your eyes – you smell things, feel things and hear things. A two-dimensional painting needs to be exaggerated to recreate this kind of sensation, so my work tends towards a more tactile representation. I use a painting knife and thick impasto paint juxtaposed against smooth brushwork to evoke this kind of response. I want to capture the flavor of he visual feast so I exaggerate and play with visual representation quite a bit.

Q. What importance does your work hold in your life?

My work is paramount in my life. I truly love what I do and I am always working towards improving my abilities and understanding of my craft.



Q. What do you do when you are not painting?

I’m an avid reader and do a lot of reading. I teach beginning painting to novices. I also have been practicing Tae Kwon Do now for almost 10 years and really enjoy studying that art. I like to stay active and love skiing. I do a lot of art festivals around New England throughout the year and travel around a bit too.

Q. What advice would you give to other emerging artists?

Stay open to everything and always keep an open mind. The process of finding your creative voice is a bumpy journey filled with many ups and downs, but if you hold on and stay patient you will get there. The key is finding courage to keep going every day and never stop.

Q. What legacy do you hope to leave through your paintings?

I hope someday when I am long gone, people will still smile when they see my paintings and see something beautiful in them.


The artwork and shared thoughts of Luke Volpe.

luke volpe

Q: What first compelled you to become an artist? Who/what were your influences?

A: In grammar school I discovered that I had some drawing skills. It was fun to draw. I garnered lots of attention from it, and my parents encouraged me by buying pencils, paper, and other supplies.

Newbury st in the rain

Q: What is your connection to Melrose? How has the area shaped your art?

A: The city has a very active art community that I have been involved with for many years.

Road to Yosemity

Q: What is your connection to the Melrose Arts community?  Is it important to you to be part of a creative community?

A: Approximately 30 years ago, I was associated with a group of Melrose artists interested in organizing and implementing one of the first art exhibits to be held at Memorial Hall. Over the years since then the Melrose art community has continued to grow.

About seven years ago, MACA (Melrose Arts and Cultural Association) was established. I have been associated with this organization, both as an exhibiting artist and as a committee member, since its inception.

I have also been a member of the Beebe Estate Association for over 10 years. The organization plans and implements monthly art exhibits in the first-floor galleries of the Beebe Estate building. Participating artists are selected from Boston and the surrounding North Shore communities.

From 2000 to 2005, I was the Gallery Manager, selecting artists to exhibit and coordinating the monthly shows.

Being associated with the local art community is one of my top priorities

Violin still lifeQ: Do you have any formal training?

A: For many years I studied watercolor painting technique with Carolyn Latanision of Winchester. Those years of study with Carolyn have greatly influenced my subject matter and style of painting.

Q: What is your current work about? What are you trying to explore and how has that evolved since you started?

A: My subject matter is a mix of cityscapes, landscapes, people, and still lifes. My still-life paintings are collections of objects that I have selected and arranged: i.e., tea cups, flowers, etc. My land and cityscapes may be a composite of several photographs that I have taken of a single subject. The photography and the compositions are always mine alone.

My intention is to create a sense of drama with the composition, color, light, and shadows.

Tulips 2011 Gifted to Kathy ReynoldsQ: What do you do when you’re not working on art?

A: I am a retired engineer, having spent most of my 52-year career in semiconductor-related industries. Most recently, I retired from Dynamics Research Corporation, Metrigraphics Division, after 32 years as Engineering Manager and Director of Engineering. I continue to be connected to the technical community.

My hobbies include sailing, painting, and volunteering at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I also participate in the weekly current-events discussions group at the Milano Senior Center.

The artwork and shared thoughts of Elaine McMichael.woodland series 17

Q: What first compelled you to become an artist? Who/what were your influences?

A: I have always been an artist. I have always loved drawing, painting, and making art from the earliest time in my life. Encouraged by my parents, I enrolled in art classes early on, including the MFA, local art studios, and workshops.

Q: What is your connection to the Melrose Arts community? Is it important to you to be part of a creative community?

A: The Melrose arts community is vibrant and welcoming. Members of the arts community offer encouragement, support, and great camaraderie.

surfs up

Q: Do you have any formal training?

A: Yes. In addition to taking art-major electives through my K-12 schooling, I majored in Fine Arts at Emmanuel College, majored in Media Design for my Masters Degree, and, for my Doctoral Dissertation, I explored the role of Visual Arts pedagogy with English Language Learners.

Q: What do you do when you’re not working on art?

A: Think about art, teach art and art education in higher education, and consult about art and art education.

reflection series

Q: What is your current work about? What are you trying to explore and how has that evolved since you started?

A: The places I know, visit, and explore evolve endlessly in my textural paintings. Each of my images focuses on landscapes and the environment, the conditions that surround us and affect the way we live – all the external factors influencing our lives such as light, heat, wind, movement, and precipitation. I invite the viewer’s participation and visceral interaction. I look for responsiveness to the environmental impact of the work.

Q: Who are your favorite artists and how have they influenced your work?

A: The impressionists and some of the many expressionists – especially in light of the evolution of my work into more abstr

 garden at giverny

Q: What is your artistic process? How do you get your creative juices flowing?

A: My art is a reflection of my life’s realities, as I perceive them. My art evokes places in which I live and places I have been, the connections I make to other people, recollections of travel, and the constant discovery of new vistas. With this in mind, every day opens a new vista of creativity – so I sketch, take photos, write, and doodle in a journal….

Check out her online gallery at the Cape Cod Art Association.

The art work and shared thoughts of Debra Corbett.

You Are The Beach by DebraCorbett

Q: What first compelled you to become an artist? Who/what were your influences?

A: I was always a creative and imaginative child. I’m originally from New Jersey and grew up in a family that exposed us to the arts. I have fond memories of family outings to the Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim, the Frick, the Cloisters, etc., in NYC. All these influences fostered a love for art at an early stage. A true love for and observation of nature holds the most power in terms of the direction my work is taking now. I was a much more traditional landscape painter in the past.

Q: Do you have any formal training?

A: I am a graduate of Seton Hall University but consider most of my art training to have happened after my children grew up and I had time to take classes at the DeCordova Museum and at workshops with well-known painters.

Q: What is your current work about? What are you trying to explore and how has that evolved since you started?

A: For several years I was a jewelry designer and had a very successful faux painting business which had a big influence on my current approach to painting and helped me find my “voice” for the canvas. I use acrylic paints, plaster, powdered pigments, glazes, and various other mediums. I have put more traditional and representational work aside for now and am simply inspired to create an interesting surface for people to explore. Through texture and color layering I invite the viewer to come to their own conclusion and interpretation. For me this is one of the most thrilling parts of working abstractly… to have no preconceived idea and just let the painting evolve on its own.


Q: Who are your favorite contemporary artists?

A: I think my all-time favorite painter is John Singer Sargent. For me, he is a genius in brushwork, composition, and color. He never fails to delight me. I love the work of Marcia Myers, Helen Frankenthaller, Mark Rothko, and Robert Motherwell. I’m generally attracted to strong expressive surface work and bold markings.

Q: Is your work on display at any galleries?

A: I am represented by Ventana Fine Art in Santa Fe, NM, and the Marshall-LeKAE Gallery in Scottsdale, Az. Locally, I show through the Hourglass in Melrose, the Cambridge Art Association, and in an online forum called UGallery. I pinch myself all the time to remind me how lucky I am to be with all of them.

Q: What do you do when not working on art?

A: This question has to be answered by saying that I am always “working on art.” When I’m not actually painting I am thinking or reading about it, or going to museums and galleries, etc. I love to travel, cook, read, and go to movies. I also love the connections I’ve made, and use the strong friendships that I have for guidance and inspiration, support and comfort.

Morning Walk by DebraCorbett