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Lana Ballot

'Stony Brook Harbor' by Leo Mancini-Hresko

By Melissa Arnold

From as far back as the Middle Ages to the 19th century, the standard setting for art education and professional work was the atelier. At an atelier — which means “workshop” in French — a master artist would work in a studio setting alongside his students, rather than simply telling them what to do. The result was a collaborative community built on shared expertise and creativity.

In the 1940s, art classrooms built on a lecture-based dynamic became popular and the era of ateliers faded into history. But today, more artists are returning to the roots of their craft by starting and joining ateliers.

‘Silence,’ bronze with warm silver patina, by Gwen Marcus

Here on Long Island, Kevin McEvoy is the artist-director of The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James. The space is home to an art studio, a 2,000-square-foot exhibition space titled Atelier Hall and even a developing library of fine art books.

Beginning this week and continuing throughout the summer, Atelier Hall will display its annual Masterworks collection, an exhibit showcasing the works of nine gifted artists from around the world.

“The Masterworks exhibit is the crystallization of dreams I’ve had for more than a decade to take our Long Island community, which has so much momentum, and marry it to the international art community, to put them all in the same room and celebrate the work they do,” said McEvoy in a recent interview. 

The journey to opening an atelier was a long one for the 38-year-old artist, who has traveled the world to hone his artistic talents. A first-generation American, he spent time as a boy living in Ireland, where his father was raised. After studying studio art at Stony Brook University, he headed to Santiago, Chile, and Florence, Italy, where he joined the prestigious Charles H. Cecil Studios.

The time abroad allowed McEvoy to cross paths with a diverse group of artists from around the world, nestled in a community where he continued to learn and grow.

By the time he returned to the States, McEvoy was married with young children and his career was taking off. But he found himself aching for something more — a social and professional circle like the one he left overseas. He began to teach at different places on Long Island in hopes of making new connections, and the rest is history.

“As soon as I plugged into teaching, this community was born and it was such a breath of fresh air,” McEvoy recalled. “Many of my students were very serious painters, and to share ideas and fan those latent gifts into flame meant so much to me. I knew then that I wanted to start an atelier.”

‘Quarter Rest’ by Wendy Jensen

The Atelier at Flowerfield officially opened in the spring of 2016. As his classes grew, McEvoy knew he needed help. He began to reach out to friends in different parts of the country and overseas, offering to put them up while they taught workshops at his studio.

“In the past, there were all of these artists I knew, but couldn’t work with because of a lack of infrastructure. And now they were able to come in regularly to stay,” McEvoy said.

The Atelier now boasts more than 120 artists who come to lecture, create and learn. Among them is Leo Mancini-Hresko, who regularly makes trips from his home near Boston to give workshops on oil painting and materials. 

Mancini-Hresko is a graduate and former principal instructor of The Florence Academy of Art whose paintings of New England and his travels abroad have appeared in exhibits across the globe. He and McEvoy got to know each other while living in Florence. 

“Many of us [who met in Florence] were not really art teachers. We’re professional artists with careers who happen to teach occasionally, and I think that’s part of the attraction, to learn from someone who considers themselves an artist first,” Mancini-Hresko said. 

‘Codman Barn’ by Leo Mancini-Hresko

Lana Ballot of Lake Grove continues to find a wealth of inspiration in Long Island’s natural scenery. She grew up in a small town in Russia where an art education wasn’t easily accessible. She studied foreign languages instead, and when she arrived in the U.S. in 1994, pursued a degree in studio art at Stony Brook University.

Ballot worked in web design for more than 15 years, but the desire to paint never faded. She eventually began freelance work, then full-time painting and teaching. Today, she teaches an ongoing pastel class at The Atelier. “It’s really like a family here,” she said of The Atelier. 

“Kevin says a lot that he wants to create a community, and that’s what is happening. It’s not just us coming in, teaching a class and going home. We interact, and as working artists we are connecting to one another and continuously learning.”

Masterworks 2019 will feature 31 two-dimensional works, including still lifes, landscapes, interiors, figures and portraits painted predominantly in oil, as well as charcoal and pastel. The show also boasts a collection of sculpture pieces by notable local artist Gwen Marcus, who will present several full life bronze cast figurative pieces. McEvoy will display his own bronze sculpture of his grandfather, Bill McEvoy. The inclusion of life-size sculpture in the Masterworks exhibition also highlights the introduction of The Atelier’s first sculpture program set to begin this summer.

Participating artists:

• Lana Ballot

• James Beihl

• Megan Euell

• Bill Graf 

• Wendy Jensen

• Leo Mancini-Hresko 

• Gwen Marcus

• Kevin McEvoy

• David Shevlino

The Atelier at Flowerfield, located at 2 Flowerfield, Suite 15, St. James will present Masterworks 2019 from May 16 through Aug. 30. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and admission is free. Join the artists for an opening reception on Thursday, May 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Enjoy live demonstrations by Atelier instructors and fellows during the event. Prosecco and hors d’oeuvres will be served. For more information, call 631-250-9009 or visit www.atelierflowerfield.org. 

All images courtesy of The Atelier at Flowerfield

'Harvest's End' by Marge Governale

When autumn arrives, residents of the Three Village area may start to think of the annual fall art show that has become a true community treasure. The Setauket Artists will host its 38th Artists’ Exhibition 2018 from Oct. 28 to Nov. 19 at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. 

‘Last Cottage’ by Fred Mendelsohn

Over 40 award-winning artists will participate in the show this year including Lana Ballot, Ross Barbara, Shain Bard, Eleanor Berger, Rina Betro, Joan Bloom, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Julie Doczi, Jeanette Dick, W.A. Dodge, Marge Governale, Peter Hahn, Melissa Imossi, Laurence Johnston, Anne Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, John Mansueto, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, Genia Neuschatz, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Denis Ponsot, Joseph Reboli, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Carole Link Scinta, Sungsook Setton, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Angela Stratton, Mac Titmus, Nancy Weeks, Marlene Weinstein, Laura Westlake and Patricia Yantz. 

‘Perfect Day’ by Lana Ballot

The exhibition will kick off with an opening reception on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. All are invited to this free event to enjoy some light refreshments while viewing the beautiful artwork, all of which will be for sale. Take a chance on winning a painting by four Setauket artists, the proceeds of which support the art organization. Marlene Weinstein will offer a photograph titled “Fishing Boat Trio,” John Mansueto will offer an original oil, Muriel Mussara will offer a watercolor titled “Conscience Bay” and Frederic Mendelsohn, this year’s honored artist, will also offer an original oil painting. 

For over 10 years, Fred Bryant of Bryant Funeral Home has sponsored the Setauket Artists, allowing this exhibit to be one of the most attended functions in the Three Village area.  

‘Autumn Reflections’ by John Mansueto

This year’s distinguished guest artist is David Peikon, renowned oil painter and winner of many awards throughout the country. Tom Mason, known for his old master paintings and portraiture, will be the distinguished judge.  

If you miss the first reception, you will have a chance to meet your favorite artists at the second reception at the annual Wine and Cheese Art Event held on Friday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. Many new paintings will be displayed for the evening, just in time for holiday giving.

“Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity to attend the receptions or daily viewing to see paintings that are classic and enduring and have given credence to our motto “Art for a lifetime,” said Irene Ruddock, coordinator of the event, adding, “After the exhibit, visit www.SetauketArtists.com to learn about the group’s Art Consultation feature where you may arrange to see paintings in your home before you decide whether or not to purchase them. The paintings of the artists include a wide range of modalities featuring work that is impressionistic, contemporary or traditional, including a portrait artist who will paint the perfect likeness of your loved ones or pet.”

For further information, you may contact  Irene Ruddock at peace2429@optonline.net. or 631-365-1312. For viewing hours at the Setauket Neighborhood House, visit www.setauketartists.com on the Events page.

Lana Ballot

Join the Atelier at Flowerfield, 2 Flowerfield, St. James for a Seascapes Demonstration by award-winning contemporary pastel painter Lana Ballot on Thursday, March 15 from 7 to 8 p.m. How does one create an alluring composition, a “glow” of light, an illusion of movement? In this demonstration, Ballot will be revealing some of her artistic magic tricks. Lana Ballot teaches classes and workshops at The Atelier, and her work is currently on exhibit in Atelier Hall. This event is open to the public, no reservation needed. Suggested donation is $10. For further information, please call 631-250-9009.

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'Grateful' by Lana Ballot

By Irene Ruddock

Lana Ballot, a signature member of the Pastel Society of America is known for her stunning seascapes and coastal scenes, one of which just won first place (‘Grateful’) in The Art Guild of Port Washington Juried Exhibition “America.” Here, she shares her views on her art with us.

What is your heritage and how has it affected your art?

Lana Ballot

I was born in Siberia, Russia, but most of my childhood was spent in Kyrgyzstan, in the south of the former Soviet Union. We lived near a resort area with a large beautiful lake (the second largest mountain lake in the world), beaches and distant mountain views. I remember watching how the lake changes colors depending on the weather, or how the setting sun colors the mountain peaks golden and pink. There I started paying close attention to colors in nature and I’m sure that’s why now, as an artist, I’m so attracted to landscape and seascape as my main subjects.

Where did you study?

It was clear since I was a child that I had some artistic ability, but there were no art schools where we lived. After I came to the United States, I felt that I was given a chance to start over and do what I really love. I enrolled as a studio arts major at Stony Brook and spent years immersed in drawing, painting and learning art history.

Why do you prefer to work with pastels?

‘Sayville Vines’ by Lana Ballot

Pastels are a perfect medium that fits so well in a contemporary lifestyle — it does not require much space or use of any toxic solvents and it’s very portable, which makes it perfect for painting outdoors. Pastels are made of pure powdered pigment that is held together with very little binder, so they have the highest color concentration than any other artist’ medium. The colors in paintings made with pastels will stay brilliant and fresh for centuries!

Where do you teach?

I was fortunate to have been invited to join the group of talented artists teaching at The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James. Currently, I offer two classes — a studio Pastel Painting class on Tuesday evenings and a Plein Air with Pastels class on Friday mornings. In addition to these ongoing classes, I teach workshops that are usually focused on a specific subject, like Painting Seascapes with Pastels from Aug. 18 to 20. This June, I’m teaching a week-long Plein Air workshop in Tuscany, Italy — a dream destination for a landscape painter!

‘Stony Brook Sunset’ by Lana Ballot

Tell me about your Tuscany workshop. Can people still sign up for it?

Yes, there’s still time to sign up. This is a painting vacation from June 17 to 24. The group will be staying in a villa in Tuscany, near the beautiful town of Cortona, the filming location for the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun.” Learning in a relaxed atmosphere in a gorgeous setting, while enjoying Italian food and wine will be a wonderful experience.

Do you have a favorite place to paint on Long Island?

Smith Point Beach in Shirley and Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai are my go-to places for seascapes and coastal subjects. It does not matter how many times I’ve walked through the dunes or by the water, I’ll find something new and exciting, because the light is never quite the same. I’m also fortunate to live near the beautiful village of Stony Brook, where I’ve painted in different seasons and weather, and where I’m bringing my plein air students during this spring semester.

Why do you like painting en plein air?

There’s no substitute for learning about color for a landscape artist than to paint outside en plein air. Besides, it’s just great to be immersed in my subject, with all senses engaged.

‘Snow in Cedar Beach Dunes’ by Lana Ballot

Who is your favorite artist?

[John Singer] Sargent is one of the biggest influences on my work for his sense of color and expressive brushwork.

If you had to choose one word to describe your art, what would that be?

Color! That is what most people would mention when they speak about my work. It’s also the brilliant color that is found in, and is so special about, my preferred painting medium — pastels.

Where can we see your work and learn more about your teaching and the workshops?

Visit my website at www.lanaballot.com or call me at 262-347-1176. You may also register for my classes or workshops at The Atelier in St. James by calling 631-250-9009 or by visiting their website, www.atelieratflowerfield.org.

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