The shared thoughts and artwork of Jack Welch.

Jack is a local artist from Melrose. His work will be on exhibit at the Melrose Arts Festival from April 26-28, 2013.

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Q. What prompt your interest in photography? 

As a child, I was fortunate that my parents both came from large families. I had a lot of aunts and uncles and loved to travel. I always had my bags packed, so to speak.

One of my aunts gave me a Kodak Brownie camera. I always took it with me wherever I went.  That aunt gave me other cameras as Christmas gifts as I got older, and my interest increased as my equipment improved and the quality of my work improved.

I had another uncle that was a very good photographer, and on visits to his house, I would read his photography magazines. I began to realize what could really be accomplished with a camera.

Q. What inspires you to take a photograph?

It is all about the subject to me. When I see a subject that calls to me, I have to photograph it. I do not always do it the first time, that I see it. I will sometimes return to the same subject several times, looking for better light.

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Q. How would you describe the collective style of your work?

My style is not terribly well defined. I started out doing landscape  photography, and photographing architecture as a child. I did not even realize why I was drawn to those subjects.

Reflecting on that as an adult, I realize that it came from having the opportunity to travel as a child and wanting to keep those memories. Many of my “Brownie” photos were buildings in New York City, and Canada and my earliest landscape shots were in taken the rural beauty of Canada.

I have always had a strong interest in transportation related subjects, and my current work reflects this. A large portion of my current work attempts to reflect the beauty of the automobile, especially vintage cars. I am drawn to the era when automobiles were designed by individual designers and not by committees. I feel that many cars in the days gone by are rolling objects of art in their own right. I try to capture those features in my work

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Q. How did you develop your talent in photography? What habit was key in its development?

I have talked to other photographers whose work I really like and tried to learn form them. I have also taken workshops by accomplished professional photographers. You can learn a great deal about photography from a small well-run workshop. You end up learning as much from your fellow students as you do from the course if you allow yourself to be fully immersed and be open to criticism.

When I am traveling in a new area, I try and find a photographer or guide that will spend time taking me to locations, that I may not have had the time to scout on my own.

The real key to getting me to the point were I am now is the digital camera. I shoot all my photos in raw format and “develop” them in Adobe Light Room. The use of a good digital processing program is key to making a good photo, a great photo.

Q. Many of your landscape photographs display a consistent focus to the beauty of mist and water.  What is your connection to these locations? 

I was privileged to have the opportunity spend a lot of time in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire as a child, and as we had breakfast on the porch, overlooking the lake every morning, I was taken by the fact that it never looked the same on any one day. On a cool morning in the summer, you could see the mist rising off the lake.

I also had an aunt that took me to the ocean very often, and I was fascinated by the mist or fog in some cases, coming off the ocean waters.

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Q. A great deal of my photography today features water in the scene in some manner.

As a young adult, I traveled to the west and discovered the great vistas of the west. The photographs that you mention are a combination of the beauty of Colorado and weather conditions that produce these dramatic scenes. I actually very seldom shoot in the middle of the day, on a sunny day, unless I have no other choice. For any photographer, it is always about the light, and I try to use that to the best possible advantage.

Q. How has your photography developed who you are as an individual?

It has made me slow down and really look at my surroundings wherever I am and what ever I am doing. It has also helped me make a lot of new friends who have a common interest.

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

It was sort of the other way around, the events of my childhood allowed me to discover art.

Q. What advice can you give to other emerging photographers?

I would tell them to look at the work of other photographers and see what you like or do not like about their work. I would also say that some sort of formal training or workshop would give you a great amount of knowledge in a very short amount of time. Most importantly don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to work outside your comfort zone.

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The shared thoughts and artwork of Pam Perras.

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

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Q.  What does Art mean to you?

Art gives me a chance to be highly aware and focused on subjects I love and wish to share with others. Nature, people, still life. Creating art offers a constant source of discovery about the world and my reaction to it. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, frustrating. But, pair that with the amazing, “in-the-zone” experiences where all that is possible flows like music, I can’t help but love the journey. I love learning.

Q. In your Bio you mention your love of painting outdoors – “hearing birds, feeling the heat or a cool breeze, the smell of water”. Do you find that these unseen experiences influence what you capture by sight?

Yes, I do. All of nature, not just its visual qualities, affects me. I imagine that my emotional reaction to the sounds, smells, the temperature of air on the skin, influence me in ways I can’t verbalize. It all beckons to me! When painting outdoors, I find it exhilarating to create a painting during the short amount of time nature allows. It’s requires thinking on your feet and responding to nature in a very direct way.

Q. Is there a time of day you find yourself always painting during?

No. This winter I’ve painted in the studio a lot. My schedule allows me to paint during the day and focus on family and home in the evening, but I’ve been known to burn the candle at both ends! I paint nearly every day and have started to work on several paintings at once (but not always quickly).

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Q. Have you always loved to paint?

I have always loved art in general, but have focused on painting the last twelve years. I was a graphic designer for many years (and still do it occasionally). I love to draw, have done collage and clay sculpture (for myself).

Q. As a former art teacher, what do you feel is an important lesson to be learned?

Art is such a great field, if learning excites you. No matter how good you are, you can always discover ways to improve. You learn from your own work and from others’. For whatever misguided reason, when I was in school many teachers would tell students, “don’t copy others, do your own work!” As a young artist, one of the best ways to learn is to copy masterful work, while also doing your own. Study the techniques and compositions of master artists; you will eventually find your own personal style. Read about art history. Be an avid learner of all things—nature, science, humanities. Who knows how your artistic journey may be influenced? I enjoyed being a graphic designer because it also exposed me to many different fields and ideas.

Q. Do you have any formal training?

I would say I’m mostly self-taught. I did get a BFA in fine art (painting and sculpture), but the focus at the time was on abstract expressionism and conceptual art. Although I appreciate some of the great qualities to be found in abstract art, I would have preferred to master the traditional skills first. I have an MFA in graphic design. Some of the skills I learned for graphic design have influenced my art, I’m sure. I’ve taken painting classes and workshops in the past six years.

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

I enjoy reading about all different things, including art; I love to garden, hike, bike, go to museums.

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

This winter, I’ve organized weekly figure/portrait sessions for a group of artists in my studio in Amesbury. In addition to landscapes, I have always loved painting and drawing people. I’m working on new ideas and will see where they take me. My goal is to explore figurative work, not necessarily become a portrait painter. I’ve been taking classes with Kelly Carmody, which has made me step back and address fundamental aspects of my work, like light/dark patterns, composition, modeling of forms. It’s a challenging time! As a representational artist, I’d love to include beautifully turned forms in my paintings. I’m experiencing a bumpy learning curve these days, but it’s great! With the warmer weather, I’ll also be painting outdoors with a group of plein air painters called Band of Brushes. I’ve been a member for 6 years.

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Q. How do you relate art to life?

I can’t separate the two, yet I’m still trying to figure out how to make more meaningful connections in my work. In everyday life, my family has posed for me and listened to my excited comments about nature, landscapes, skies. When my sons and their cousins were young, they were supportive and helpful, too—bringing me abandoned nests, bits of nature and hiking and enjoying the outdoors while I’ve painted.

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.

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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.

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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 shared thoughts and artwork of Eli Helman.

Eli is a visiting artist from Framingham, MA. His work will be on exhibit at the Melrose Arts Festival on April 26-28, 2013.

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Q. Can you explain the artistic style of Maximalist?

Maximalism is a term used in many forms of art that can be marked by, but not limited to, the juxtaposition of varying styles, a process oriented approach and an obsessive attention to detail.  Leaving virtually no space untouched, I apply these characteristics of the Maximalist style into a boldly intricate yet distinctly raw form of expressionism that combines elements of folk art, comic humor and whimsical surrealism with a strong focus on pattern to create a satisfyingly full visual experience.

Q. What is your artistic process?

My process is fairly basic.  Over time I have developed a particular language of recurring patterns that I mix and match within different contexts.  Once I have chosen a subject for a drawing, I design the piece with the subject as the main focal point.  I draw that first before filling in all the details.  If I have set aside the space for a decorative border, that usually comes last.  One way to think about it is to imagine starting with a simple line drawing and then “dressing it up” until there is no more spaces to fill.

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Q. Your drawings are so incredibly detailed? How long does it normally take for you to complete a piece?

Each 8”x10” piece can take between 10-20 hours to complete.  The largest pieces (18”x24”) can take well over 100 hours each.  On average, this is about 15 minutes per square inch.  Some drawings take longer due to more time spent planning and designing the layout while others that are more free-hand, pattern-based work are measured by the drawing time alone.

Q. Are your drawings, or components of your them,  symbolic? And if so, how?

As my work has evolved I find myself incorporating more symbolic messages into more pieces.  While some drawings are straightforward (i.e. birds in trees or a cabin in the woods), others take on layers of meaning that speak to different aspects of the subject.  For example, my recent “Rope Bridge” drawing has a way of inviting the viewer in through its perspective view but, upon closer examination, the prospect of crossing over unsteady boards toward a mysterious and foreboding forest scene gives pause.  This can be a universal message about life in terms of the allure of danger, temptation and the unknown.  If I can convey an idea that works on both levels then I feel that it is a success.

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Q. What influences you to interpret specific aspects of nature in a particular way – in shapes, patterns, and lines?

The limitations of the pen itself have been as much of an influence on my style of drawing as many other aspects of my approach. Since my early doodling days when trees were a major basis of many drawings, I have found that most things in nature are reduce-able to simple patterns.  It doesn’t have to look exactly like leaves or branches or bark as long as it communicates the essence of those things.  Lines and shapes drawn in black pen have very little impact on the eye without their relationship to the white space around them.  Learning how to balance the light and dark in order to make the appropriate parts pop out is the key to an effective piece in black and white art.  Patterns in nature lend themselves very well to this style because they are easily recognizable yet open to interpretation.  That duality is inherent when working with only one color on a white background.  So I hope to convey that while simultaneously tying in other dualities within nature – life and death, large and small, near and far, etc.

Q. How has your background in music influenced your drawings?

Having been an aspiring musician for years, I am heavily influenced by modern classical, avant-garde and experimental music. Listening to music with complex relationships often gives me visual ideas. Just as composers do in music, I think of my shapes and patterns as a language with a finite vocabulary. They each have their own personality and their own way of filling space. The challenge becomes how to reconstitute and reorganize the shapes and patterns in order to create a seamless flow within large contexts.

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Q. As a self-taught artist, what has been your biggest challenge to overcome?

Without any formal training I do find myself sometimes unprepared to fully execute certain ideas.  Most of my early work was two dimensional, for example. As I have grown into adding more depth, shading and meaning into my work I have been challenged by certain technical obstacles.  For years I have debated whether or not to take any drawing classes to tie up some of these loose ends, but it hasn’t happened yet.  So far I have been able to learn what is necessary to realize what I want to see.  While this can be quite time consuming I feel it is worth maintaining the rawness of my outsider style than to polish it too much.

Q. Are you working on any new work? Can you share what you are exploring?

My most recent pieces are eclectic as usual, ranging from animal drawings (whale, elephant, birds) to objects (fireplace, typewriter, accordion) to sports themes (basketball hoop, baseball field, hockey player on a secluded mountain lake).  I have been exploring some new patterns including wood grain, brick buildings and a starry night sky.  I am constantly chipping away at an ever-growing list of subjects that I hope to bring to life one at a time.  In addition, I have just self-published a book of drawings entitled LIFE IN FORMS: 50 Maximalist Ink DrawingsHelman-Hearth Ave



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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The artwork and shared thoughts of Luke Volpe.

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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.