This week’s cover, “Boatyard Pickup,” is in many ways typical of Doug Reina’s work. First, it is realistic but somehow conveys an ambiance of “other worldliness.” Moreover, the truck in the foreground juxtaposed with water in the background provides an arresting context to the image. Reina’s frequent use of background-foreground compositions gives meaning to his pieces.
What was your inspiration for the cover image?
My father [who is a sculptor] and I had a show last August at Ashawagh Hall, and this image, “Boatyard Pickup,” was in the show. I am a plein air painter, so I paint outdoors, and this boatyard was near Stony Brook.
Is that the area where you usually paint?
I paint from there to Montauk. My family has a house in Montauk, and I love to work there because my soul gets washed clear.
Speaking of Montauk, did you ever want to be a boat builder or fisherman?
I feel very blessed going outside. Nature is the best teacher I ever had. Being close to nature gives you a rich sense of color and natural abstractions.
What else influenced you to become a plein air painter?
I was attracted to other plein air painters. I took their lead. I liked their style.
Do you paint with a group of like-minded people?
No. I’m an offbeat person. Where some people “zig,” I “zag.” But I do meet with some artists once a month, and we talk about art.
I also take art classes from Stan Brodsky through the Art League of Long Island, where I get good feedback. I’ve grown so much from that class.
How did your family encourage and/or influence you?
My mother owned an art gallery, and my father was a sculptor, as I said. Being surrounded by art got into my system.
My parents never pushed me. They were kind enough to let me make my own choices.
You are now painting full-time. That’s a big step. How has that been?
After going to Buffalo State for two years, I got the painting bug in the early 1990s. I’ve been painting full-time since 2006. I would tell anyone who wants to do that that it will take time. You may have heard that you have to paint 500 paintings before you get something good.
What other advice would you have for an artist just starting out?
Go out and learn from anyone you can. Develop a sense of taste. See things and decide what you like and don’t like.
What have you learned as an artist?
I learned I wasn’t taking chances. I was doing safe pieces. Now I am doing offbeat subject matter, like an old race driver sitting among his cars. I want to combine landscape and abstraction. I’m good at looking at landscape and painting it, but I want to express more of what I’m feeling through abstraction. I want to take the skills of a plein air painter and put them into what I’m feeling.
Doug Reina’s works will be on view at Greenport’s South Street Gallery (18 South Street), 631-477-0021. He’ll be having an exhibit at Greenlawn’s Ripe Art Gallery from May 10–June 1, 631-239-1805. See Reina’s images on his website dougreina.com.