By Irene Ruddock
Dear Readers, Welcome to our newest column in Arts & Lifestyles! Long Island is home to many wonderful and talented artists. Each month we will feature a local artist who will share his or her favorite paintings as well as their own personal story.
Holbrook resident Reneé Caine has shown her work around Long Island for the past 20 years, most notably with the Huntington Arts Council, East Hampton Guild, Catherine Lorillard Art Club and the Watermill Museum. For the past eight years, she has exhibited with the Setauket Artists at the Setauket Neighborhood House and is a member of LIMarts. Currently, Caine is Artist of the Month at the LIMarts latest exhibit at The Long Island Museum’s Visitors Center titled Inspired By …, which is on view through Jan. 29.
What is your background in art?
I have drawn, painted or created some form of art my entire life. I received my bachelor’s of fine arts from Dowling College with a major in art education and a master’s of arts liberal studies with an emphasis in art from Stony Brook University. I have explored all types of medium including watercolor, gouache, oil, acrylic, chalk, oil pastel, pottery, clay sculpture, printmaking, soap stone carving and bronze casting.
I taught art to grades K-12 in several districts with the last 18 years of my career teaching in the Three Village school district. When I taught, I let my students know that I was a working artist and they loved to see my work. It is rewarding to see students show up at my exhibits! I have even been critiqued by a few of them using the skills I taught them!
Who influenced you to become an artist?
My grandmother was a respected watercolorist in St. Paul, Minnesota, so I think some of my talent is genetic. For years, I followed in her footsteps painting in watercolor, but now I am painting in oils.
What is your motivation?
Picasso once said his art “was like a visual diary.” That is exactly how I feel about my work. My paintings are a reflection of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen that has caught my eye or spoken to me. When I paint, I want to draw the viewer into my “Ah” moment. I am showing the viewer what caught my eye: color, light, shadow, contrast and textures in everything around us.
How would you describe your art?
I am a realist. My work is representational. I want the viewer to experience what I felt when I saw “It.” Although realistic, I still use “artistic license” to make changes. I do not try to improve on mother nature, but at times try to clean up man’s debris. My paintings are calm, restful and peaceful and I invite the viewer to step into my world to escape for a while. However, there are times that I wish to experiment with contemporary genres such as “Hello,” which won an award at a LIMarts exhibit titled I’ve Got the Music in Me.
Do you have any early memories of your art?
My first painting I ever sold was a nine by twelve oil pastel of a horse grazing in a field. I was in ninth grade when the secretary in the office wanted to buy it. She paid me $20 saying, “You will sell many of your paintings in your life, but you will always remember the first one you sold.” She was right as that experience was a wonderful incentive and affirmation for a child.
Do you have a favorite painting?
I remember the day I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw Johannes Vermeer’s “Young Woman with a Water Jug” painted in 1632. Having seen it only in textbooks, I was surprised by how small it was. Although small, I found it was powerful. Vermeer’s use of light so astounded me that it remains my favorite painting to this day.
Where is your favorite place to paint?
I am quite sure that Giverny, France, is now and will remain the most motivating place I’ve ever been. While walking through Monet’s home and gardens, I felt almost transformed to another time. As I was processing all the beauty surrounding me, I felt the enormous energy there.
What is your process when painting?
When something inspires me I take many photographs of the subject from different angles and with different lighting; then I visualize the composition in my head. It is not unusual for me to think about a painting for a couple of months before I paint it.
What is your vision for your future in art?
I feel my talent is God-given, therefore, it is my wish to develop it to the fullest. I want each painting to be an improvement over the last one. With each painting I learn something new. Growth is my quest! Keep growing, keep learning is my motto! Since I retired, I am devoting myself to my art full time and immersing myself into the art community. In the new year, I am especially looking forward to working with Neil Watson by becoming a member of the steering committee for LIMarts.
What are your other interests?
Outside of my devotion to my husband, daughter, son and three adorable grandsons, I’m an avid gardener. My property is my living sculpture. I have color from early April to late November. I have nooks, crannies and brick walkways I designed and put in myself. My vegetable garden feeds my family all summer and growing an abundance of cucumbers supplies us with pickles that we enjoy all winter. When I’m not gardening, I can be found painting in my garden! I will continue to grow as art is not what I do, art is who I am.