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The shared thoughts and artwork of Cynthia Morgan.

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

Greek Isle

Q. What does Art mean to you?

Art to me is a relaxing way of expressing myself.

Q. Many of your paintings include water? Does that hold a specific meaning to you?

Water has so many different feelings to it. It s forever changing – calm and quiet to angry and fierce.

Nantucket Dream

Q. How long have you been an artist for?

I started painting 33 years ago but with a growing family, my painting took a hiatus for much of that time. I picked up a brush again a few years ago and realized how much I missed it and this past year I have made up for time lost.

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

Creativity was always encouraged in my family as I was growing up and I enjoyed doing crafts, writing poems, sewing and drawing. Both my mother and grandfather were artists also.

Mirrored Worlds I

Q. What role does your current surroundings play in your paintings?

Since moving to Lowell a little over a year ago, I’ve found a very artistic community. Everyone I’ve met has been very encouraging and helpful.

Q. How do you hope your paintings are interpreted?

I would like people to look at my paintings and remember a special time or place in their life.

Heart of the Lakes

Q. Do you have a favorite painting? Why does this piece hold an importance to you?

It s hard to call one painting my favorite. They all feel like they are such a part of me but if I had to choose one it would be  Nantucket Dreams . This was a picture my husband and I took on a special anniversary weekend . It was also the first painting I finished after moving to Lowell a little over a year ago.

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

Most of my artwork has been paintings of landscapes from pictures I love. I’m comfortable with this type of painting subject but recently I ve started to expand and push myself in a different area I consider  New Age . I m hoping it will be well accepted.

Beacon of LoveAutumn Tranquility

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The shared thoughts and artwork of Paige Wallis.

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

Paige Wallis_003Q. What does Art mean to you?

With my personal work, I’m mostly just celebrating the beauty I find in the world, from the natural to the man-made and the confluence between the two. But Art means so much more to me then that; I think that Art as a whole is a distillation of the human experience.

Q. What inspires you to paint?

Light. Color. Texture. The challenge of filtering what I see through my eyes, brain, nerves, muscles and fingertips onto a two dimensional surface. I think I was born hard-wired to be an artist of some sort. One of my earliest memories is of when I was very small and used to suck my thumb, I would stroke my face with my index finger and imagine it was a paintbrush.

Paige Wallis_001

Q.  At the Melrose Arts Festival you will be exhibiting your “Peppers” Series. Can you share some background and the source of inspiration behind this project?

Actually, it all began because I was participating in my first Melrose Arts Festival in 2010! I had decided to work much smaller than usual as I could price smaller pieces more affordably as well as get more new paintings done for my display. The Pearl Art Supply in Central Square was going out of business and I scored twelve small tile frames at a great price that were perfect for 5” x 5” canvas panels. Since they were square, I decided to photograph various fruits in my daughter’s colorful wooden stacking/nesting boxes as series of ‘boxed still life’. It was/is my attempt to create a trompe l’oeil effect so that anyone viewing the paintings might feel as if they could reach into them and pick up the object depicted. They turned out so well and got such a good response that I thought it would be fun to do a new Boxed Still Life series every year. I did a second series in 2011 featuring flowers, but  didn’t get around to doing one in 2012 as I focused on doing my larger urban landscape watercolors (and having my second child). I’ve always loved looking at the big assortment of peppers on display in the produce section at my grocery store, so that’s how I chose the subject of my third series. The peppers were a lot of fun to do because there is such a great variety in their shapes, colors and textures. My Boxed Still Life project is ongoing so there will be more to come!

Paige Wallis_004

 Q. If your paintings could talk what would they say?

“Buy me!” ha!

Q. How would you describe your artistic style?

I’m definitely primarily a realist. But while my watercolors are always pretty earth and worldly, my acrylics tend to be ‘heightend’ and idealized versions of reality, more slick and less gritty.

Paige Wallis_002

Q. What is your creative process?

Most of the time, something will just catch my eye. I drive by the candlepin bowling alley in Malden (the subject of Open Lanes) all the time and am fascinated by the character of it’s cool retro and weathered look. So one day I went down there with my camera and shot it from all different angles. Then I reviewed the images at home on my computer until I found the one that spoke to me the most.

Q. What importance does art hold in your life?

Painting is very important to me. It’s my own personal form of meditation.

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

I didn’t have much in the way of art education at school as a little kid, but my parents are very creative people, especially my mother, and they both encouraged me in my artistic endeavors. One time I decided to make shoes out of paper lunch sacks and then insisted on wearing them to visit my father at his office prompting his boss to jokingly ask if they were paying him enough, heh.

Then when I was thirteen I was encouraged by my mother and my art teacher to audition for an arts based high school where I ended up being accepted as a visual arts major. It was around that time that my eyes were really opened to all that art is and can be.

Q. What words of wisdom would you share with aspiring artists?

A true artist is always seeking ways to grow and improve and that requires getting out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to fail. Seek out people who will give you constructive criticism and learn from it.

The shared thoughts and artwork of Leslie DiDomenico.

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

LESLIE DIDOMENICO_002

Q. How long have you been painting?

I have always enjoyed making art as a child but High School sparked my passion for painting. I started taking art classes. My father is artistic and he showed me some of the work he did. He also had a set of oil paints, which I experimented with. My first painting was a bowl of fruit. In my senior year of high school, the art room was my second home, which inspired me to go to art school. I attended Montserrat College of Art and graduated with a BFA with a concentration in Illustration. My love for landscapes evolved in my experience there. I studied abroad in Viterbo, Italy. This was where I discovered myself as a landscape artist. Since then, I have gotten a Master’s degree in Art Education from Lesley University and have been teaching at St. Joseph’s School in Medford. I continue to paint landscapes in my free time.

LESLIE DIDOMENICO_005

Q. What inspires your work and the images you decide to capture?

I have many paintings of places I have been to. My usual process is to capture the photos myself and use them as reference to paint from. I am also inspired by pictures in books or online. Once in a while, I will imagine a place in my mind but I typically like having a visual. Also, I have done  work on-site outdoors, but dealing with environmental conditions can be very distracting.

Q. How would you describe the style of your artwork?

I would describe my style as expressive, colorful, textural, emotional,  and sometimes mysterious.

LESLIE DIDOMENICO_006

Q. What is your artistic process?

I find a comfortable painting spot indoors. I must put on music to contribute to going into my “painting zone”. I use water-based oil paints. I begin by  using one color mixed with water. I set up a line drawing with that color. I then begin to fill in areas with that one color to create shapes. The color  chosen is always significant to the colors I wish to use overall. I then fill in all the shapes with the appropriate colors of choice with paint and water.  After, I go over the areas or shapes with lights and darks with thicker paint (water based oil paint mixed with stand oil). I make physical texture with the paint and create the feeling of texture for natural elements such as; trees, grass, etc as well.

Q. What do you hope to communicate through your paintings?

I want to share my experiences and my interpretations of nature but also I want people to create their own connections when viewing my work.  Familiarity and memories may emerge or there might just be a love for a beautiful place.

LESLIE DIDOMENICO_003

Q. How have your paintings transformed over the years?

I started painting with oil paints in art school but switched to water-based oil paints after graduation for health purposes. I have also grown a  passion for trees over time. Some of my recent work highlights trees as  opposed to a full landscape.

Q. What importance does your work hold in your life? What advice would you give to other emerging artists?

It’s a meditating and soothing experience. I am able to go into a “painting zone” and enter into my own world. It makes me happy! I tell my students to believe in themselves and to always follow their passion. Never give up!

LESLIE DIDOMENICO_004

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

Trees have become more of a focus in my work. I find them interesting. I  appreciate their growth and their impact on survival. I am very drawn to  branches. I can get lost watching them move, twist, and turn about. The  trees in my work can be natural in color but sometimes will change according to the mood of the piece or the mood of me.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Sometimes the illustration side of me emerges. I make calendars, cards, tote bags, mugs and other retail items with my paintings printed on them  during the holiday season.

LESLIE DIDOMENICO_001

The shared thoughts and artwork of Margery Jennings.

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

Margery Jennings

Margery Jennings

Q. How long have you been painting?

As a child I was always drawing. I got my first set of oils when I was about 13 and have been painting most of my adult life. I worked as a graphic designer for many years and painted around the edges, so to speak, of my regular jobs. For the last six years I’ve been able to take painting front and center.

Q. The majority of your work is of landscapes. How do you connect with nature and how do you reflect it through your work?

I grew up in the woods, in a rural area. As far back as I remember, I felt connected to those surroundings and still have a powerful emotional response to the natural world. I hope some of that emotion comes through in the paintings. I think about the vulnerability of that world. Most are painted on location, and the immediacy of place–of sounds, smells, wind, temperature and light–all affect me as I work.  Standing quietly and painting in one place is like bearing witness at that specific place, at that moment. With any luck the painting allows me to capture something of that numinous quality and share it with the viewer.

MARGERY JENNINGS

MARGERY JENNINGS

Q. While painting do you see and feel the world differently?

I think perhaps it’s the other way around. I paint because I see the way I do. I will see something visually arresting and it stops me cold. If I’m lucky I can stop, or get back there with my paints; otherwise it remains simply a sharp intake of breath, a vivid memory. There is, though, an almost meditative state that happens when I am painting: I lose any sense of time, and hours can pass without notice. It is an intense and focused process. I’m seeing in three dimensions, converting it to a flat surface, trying to hold on to what caught my attention in the first place. For it to work it also must convey what the painting is about, that emotional response, not necessarily what it is of. There’s a difference.

Q. Is there a particular location or time of day you tend to paint at/in?

I seem to like times of long light: the shadows of morning and evening can help emphasize or dramatize a subject; the hard light of midday is tough for me. In the studio I have painted at almost every hour when the impulse becomes irresistible. Often I will wake early in the morning with a technical problem nagging from an unfinished work and go into the studio “just for a look.” It’s a good way to get odd colors onto a bathrobe.

MARGERY JENNINGS

MARGERY JENNINGS

Q. What details of your work are you most particular about? (color, paint strokes, lines, etc)?

Painting for me is an endless learning curve. I love playing with color, but “color” is an opinion–infinitely variable. I’ve enjoyed working with a limited palette–a couple of earth colors, black and white–and seeing how much you can do within those constraints.

Composition bedevils me, but I feel it’s the key to everything else. When you walk into a gallery you may see something from across the room that speaks to you immediately, even before you know what the subject is. You then walk closer to get a better look: that’s composition. I think about edges in a painting, but as they contribute to the composition; I rarely pay any attention to paint strokes. They take care of themselves… or not. Maybe if I get to a different level of accomplishment I’ll decide that paint strokes are everything. It’s all process.

Q. To someone enjoying the sight of a landscape, what words of wisdom would you share?

Turn off your cell phone.

MARGERY JENNINGS

MARGERY JENNINGS

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

I will probably always enjoy painting outdoors, but I have been doing other work in studio as well–I like painting figures and faces; I’ve also experimented with mixed media and different themes. I feel it’s about the process of creating, and the process of learning, rather than outcomes. I could probably go in a very different direction if I found a good reason to.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share?

A lot of people come up to me and confide that they either wanted to paint, or did and gave it up, or “can’t” paint but would like to. Don’t listen to the negative messages in your head. No one can judge you. Never be afraid to take up an artistic pursuit at any age.  Take a class. Watch a video. Go to museums. Draw something simple like an apple, or an orange if the stem intimidates you. Look at paintings (or sculpture or whatever). Take it all in. If you have the desire, find your voice.

MARGERY JENNINGS

MARGERY JENNINGS

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 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.

TracyLevesque_002

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.

TracyLevesque_006

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.

TracyLevesque_004

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.

TracyLevesque_005

TracyLevesque_007

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.

TracyLevesque_001

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.