It’s a real pleasure for me to introduce you to Rita DiCaprio of New York North Fine Art. Rita was one of the very first artists that I met online when I began painting four years ago. She also paints with oil pastels and if it wasn’t for her generosity of sharing techniques and information about the medium, I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t have continued down this journey of becoming an oil pastelist.
Rita is a fabulously talented artist who works oil pastels as I’ve never seen before . . . her paintings are gorgeous. Please enjoy the interview below that I recently conducted with Rita.
How long have you been an artist? I have been a professional artist for the past twenty-five years. By professional, I mean that I started selling my work at that time, and that was when I received my first award for my paintings. But to answer the question how long have I been an artist, I think that I have felt like an artist for as long as I can remember. I remember a fascination with color, paint, and creating art from my earliest childhood memories.
What training have you received? I have taken workshops with a variety of artists, and studied individually with a few mentors over the years, all of which have been very helpful in my development as an artist. I have been fortunate to have met some really wonderful and talented people who have been very generous in sharing their passion and skill.
What medium do you specialize in? I have basically concentrated on two mediums during my life: watercolor earlier in my career, and then later in my career oil pastels, which is definitely my medium of choice. I now work almost exclusively in oil pastels.
How would you describe your style? I generally work in a loose, impressionistic style. My work has also been described as tonalist, as often there is a moody, misty quality, with soft edges and neutral hues in the painting.
Are there artists who have influenced the direction of your work, if so who and why? There are many artists that have influenced my work over the years, some famous, and some little known. As a group, The Hudson River Artists have had a huge influence on my work. I am drawn to the way they used light, and their love affair with the Upstate New York Landscape which is where I have spent the last 30 years. Some of my favorite artists are Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, and John William Casilear.
What subjects appeal to you? Generally I am drawn to the landscape. Landscapes in all seasons. One of my favorites to paint is the winter landscape, as I love trying to create a sense of luminosity in the snow. I also enjoy painting still life, especially the still life of everyday objects.
How do you push your creative envelope and keep things fresh? I think for me, keeping things fresh means keeping your eyes open to what you see and not continuing to paint in the same way, even when it is successful. I think there can be a temptation to continue to do the same thing over and over again when it works, but I think that’s when paintings start to look rote. I try to stay tuned in to what excites me, and try to always take risks in a painting. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it always keeps it exciting.
Do you see a finished painting in your minds-eye before you start? In other word do you visualize before you start or just let things flow on its natural course as you paint? I rarely see a finished painting in my mind’s eye, and even when I do, it’s not usually what it winds up being in the end anyway! I try to listen to where the painting wants to take me . . . often changing directions completely.
Where do you go for inspiration? I am blessed to live in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful areas of the country, Upstate New York which is home to the Adirondack Mountains. For inspiration, I am a short drive to the mountains which still, after living here all these years, literally take my breath away. I think if I live to be 100 and I am still painting, I will still have more to share about what the mountains are saying to me.
Do you paint plein aire, in a studio or both? I am mostly a studio painter, although I do paint plein aire and really enjoy it. There is something in the experience of being outside with nature when you create that is truly wonderful.
What does your art mean to you? Wow, that is a tough question! I don’t know if I can really put that into words. I feel like my painting is such an intrinsic part of myself that it is hard to separate me from my art. It is my passion, it is what makes me feel alive, it feels like what I was meant to do in this life.
What do you want your art to say to the viewer? I hope that my art conveys a sense of what I feel when I see the subject that I am painting, and the joy that I feel when I paint. I don’t really have any more sophisticated theme that I am trying to convey . . . Just the beauty I see, and the joy I feel.
What is the name of your blog and website? The name of my blog is http://www.newyorknorthfineart.wordpress.com that I share with another artist, Eden Compton. My website is an online gallery that features both the work of myself and Eden Compton as well. The online gallery link is http://www.newyorknorthfineart.com and offers work directly available for purchase.
Is there another place else that we can go to see your work in person? I have a permanent collection of my landscapes at The Batchellor Mansion in Saratoga Springs, NY.