2010-06-04 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

The Adventure Of Paint – Two Openings
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

“Cornucopia,” one of the oil paintings in “Paintings by Susan De Castro,” the solo show in sTudio 6, RoCA at Fort Tilden. Opening reception: Sunday, 12-4 p.m., sTudio 7. “Cornucopia,” one of the oil paintings in “Paintings by Susan De Castro,” the solo show in sTudio 6, RoCA at Fort Tilden. Opening reception: Sunday, 12-4 p.m., sTudio 7. “Every painting is an adventure. When it is finished, I’ll start another adventure.” So says Susan De Castro, whose solo show begins in sTudio 6 Gallery on Saturday, June 5. This adventurous spirit is immediately evident in her colorful, dynamic paintings.

“Paintings by Susan De Castro” features 25 to 30 oil paintings consisting primarily of still lifes, but also including a few landscapes/seascapes. When asked, “Why still lifes?” she responds, “I am fascinated by objects; I’m attracted to the way objects relate to each other, have a dialogue with each other.

There’s so much information you can find in a still life. The challenge is to put together things that wouldn’t necessarily go together. The challenge is to make them into an interesting painting.” Indeed, much of the drama in her work comes from the placement of the objects and their interplay; and in the choices she makes in design elements.

Plant leaves, for example, flow and turn with flair. Her brushstrokes often add to this sense of motion.

De Castro and I spoke a great deal about color. She has taken many journeys of exploration in her life, including artistic ones. But each painting is a journey of exploration, as well. “I start out getting the proportions and the composition correct ... the negative space.” “Once that is realized, I edit … continue to change it.” “… you take a different journey, edit, work through the painting.”

She explains that years ago, her colors were not as vibrant. She was much more a traditional painter, attempting to get the colors exactly as she saw them. However, she felt as though there was more to be discovered in her work.

About 10 years ago she began focusing mainly on still lifes. She studied with Carlos Castaño, who went back to “very basic stuff,” such as getting the drawing correct.

She presently studies at the Art Students League with Peter Homitzky, who “encourages his students to experiment and take risks with color.” “I wanted to see where I could take color.” Also experimenting, initially, with the composition, once she has established the basic form, she then experiments with the colors; sees what vibrates with another. Sometimes a particular color won’t look good in a work and she will have to change it. It is a constant “dialogue” she has with the painting. She is attracted to the work of artists such as Pierre Bonnard and Wayne Thiebaud, who “don’t use the color you expect.” “Color is my passion.” “I live color.” Because of the variety of reflections of objects on the other objects in De Castro’s work, those vibrant colors are multiplied, restated, reinforced, creating a kind of dance. This is often true in the patterned or solidly hued backgrounds and middlegrounds, which form a dynamic restatement of the foreground or a dramatic, contrasting counterpoint.

De Castro’s landscapes, she says, “have a similar sensibility to the way I put down paint [in the still lifes].” She paints places she knows well and so the paintings are “very personal” – “cherished views.” She calls Brazil her “second soul.” Davis Park on Fire Island is another location she has “explored and found little places” she loves to paint. Often they are the beach, the dunes, the play of water and light. You can see more of the artist’s work at: susandecastro.com.;

De Castro has taught for many years, beginning as an art teacher in public schools. She created and ran an art workshop for children at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum on Cape Cod, Mass. Currently, she is coordinator and full time professor of the Desktop and Web Publishing Department at Touro College. Touro is an independent institution of higher and professional education established to perpetuate and enrich Jewish heritage as well as to serve the general community in all its diversity, including the underserved of that community.

“Paintings by Susan De Castro” will show you works that are vibrant, exciting and unexpected. The exhibit is on view June 5 – June 27 in sTudio 6 Gallery, Fort Tilden. Also beginning June 5 is “Left Brain/Right Brain,” in sTudio 7, exploring the conflict and confluence of the ‘instincts/logic’ of our two cerebral hemispheres. Opening reception for both is Sunday, June 6, 12-4 p.m., sTudio 7. Reception festivities will include a presentation by the RAA Writers Group at 2:30 p.m.

RAA CONTACT INFO: Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718-474- 4373; e-mail: info@raa116.org; website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org Fort Tilden Highlights

NEXT EXHIBITS: “Left Brain/Right Brain” in sTudio 7, Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA) at Fort Tilden. On view June 5 – 26. “Paintings by Susan De Castro” in sTudio 6, June 5 - 27. Both shows: Opening reception: Sun., June 7, 12 – 4 p.m. Features presentation by RAA Writers Group. Gallery hrs: Sat. and Sun. 12-4 p.m. and by appointment. Free admission. NEXT WRITERS GROUP MEETING: Sun., June 20 in sTudio 6, 4 – 6 p.m. PAINTING CLASSES FOR ADULTS: “Painting With Geoff Rawling”: Tues. 7-9 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.-12 noon. sTudio 6. $15 per class, supplies included. “Experiencing Watercolor With Bob Bainbridge”: Wed., 7:30-9:30 p.m. sTudio 6. $20 per class or sign up in advance for four consecutive classes in one month for $75 (a $5 value), supplies included.

kidsmART corner

Attention teens 15 years of age by July 1,2010: Unpaid internship positions are available at camp kidsmART for youth 15 years of age only. Contact the RAA office for applications.

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