This week’s cover by Lisa Argentieri, called “The Kiss,” is certainly perfect for Valentine’s Day. What’s also perfect is the image’s medium: watercolor. Watercolor is a method that’s airy and spontaneous; colors and shapes flow into one another, just like a kiss. Watercolor is also sensual and romantic, evoking a sense of movement and rhythm just like a kiss. Hopefully.
Argentieri says she likes to use the medium with other subjects, like flowers and the ocean, because she enjoys being spontaneous and free-flowing when she draws. Here’s an artist who is intimately joined both literally and figuratively to her aesthetic method.
I know you started learning art when you were pretty young. Who influenced you along the way?
I started at 14. I was an apprentice for Joe Mack in life drawing, sculpture and painting at Huntington Fine Arts Workshop. Joe was a big mentor and taught me about drawing figures. Whenever I look at my figures, his teaching comes back to me. More recently, I took classes at the Art League of Long Island with Ed McEvoy. He gave me confidence. He said I did more work in two years than most people did in a lifetime.
You had classical training in art as well.
I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York for four years. Then I was a freelance graphic artist for 10 years, working on Long Island. What I used to do is outdated now.
Did you miss painting and the other arts that you learned in classes and at the School of Visual Arts?
I never thought about painting when working in the graphic arts. I didn’t miss it. To make a living, I had to throw away my paintbrushes.
How did you get back into painting and drawing?
One day I got a newsletter from the local library listing a course in pastel drawing. It was only $30 so I enrolled. My art training just came back, like riding a bike. I made up for all the years I wasn’t painting.
What are some high points you have experienced in the last few years, once you got back to painting?
I was in my first juried show four years ago at the Art League of Long Island. That was a turning point. I enrolled in a watercolor class there, and that was also important. Three years ago I won an award in watercolor from the Salmagundi Club. That pushed me to another level.
What is it about watercolor that attracts you?
Doing watercolor is like watching magic happen. It’s uncontrollable, but it’s controllable, too. You do it very fast and spontaneously.
How did your classical training prepare you for watercolor? I know that sounds odd since classical art is more structured.
Classical training taught me a knowledge of anatomy and a knowledge of drawing. Drawing is so important.
What subjects will you be working with in the near future?
I love to do flowers, and I’m going to start drawing live models. I recently did acrylic paintings of water: rivers, ponds, oceans.
Why water, although you have lived in Long Island all your life?
I have had very vivid dreams about water my entire life. It’s a feeling I have, an emotion, when I dream of water.
Are your feelings and emotions as important to you in everything you create?
I paint intuitively; whatever I’m feeling, it comes out in my painting.
Lisa Argentieri will be in a show at Cold Spring Harbor Library during April and May. Visit watercolorsbylisa.blogspot.com to view her work.