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Irene Ruddock

‘Art is my passion and lifetime adventure;

I relish being able to dedicate each and every day to the art of creating.’

– Angela Stratton

By Irene Ruddock

‘It’s Me’, self portrait by Angela Stratton

Angela Stratton, whose artistry is described as traditional realism, was schooled in the old master’s tradition at the Reilly League of Artists. She was mentored by Cesare Borgia who strongly emphasized portrait and figure drawing, painting from life, working from casts, and copying old masters such as Velazquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt and Rubens. 

After over twenty years of study, Ms. Stratton was asked to supplement Borgia’s teaching responsibilities and has since emerged as an award-winning artist who has exhibited country-wide. Today, she belongs to numerous organizations such as the Catherine Lorillard Wolf Art Club, the Portrait Society of America, the Salmagundi Club, and the Oil Painters of America. She continues to teach and to seek continuous study through workshops, demonstrations, and museum lecture series. 

I recently caught up with the artist to get her views on her prestigious career.

Was there a defining moment when you decided to follow the path of traditional realism?

Yes. I did draw as a child, but my true inspiration came in my early years of employment at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wandering the great rooms intrigued by the old master paintings. It was there that I decided to become an artist.   

What do you remember most about the influence of your mentor Cesare Borgia?

He had so such love and enthusiasm for art that it became contagious. But I mostly remember his encouraging me to persevere and to pursue research. He encouraged me to develop my own style and to “be true to myself.” Through the years, I developed a such a strong bond with him and his wife Margy, that she told me I was the daughter they never had. Many years later, I painted her portrait and gave it the title ‘Beautiful Spirit’ as she was truly deserving of that title. 

What artists do you especially admire? 

That is difficult to answer as there are so many great artists with different styles who make each one unique. One of my favorites is John Singer Sargent, whose fluid strokes helped make him the leading portrait painter of his generation. He is often known for his scandalous painting of Madame X.  I also admire William A. Bouguereau for his superb draftsmanship and classical paintings of the female form. His painting of the “Birth of Venus” is often described as the epitome of classical Green and Roman form of the female body.        

You have a wide range of paintings which depict landscapes, portraiture and still life. Which are you most well known for?  

I have always been known for my portraiture and figures, but since retiring, I have been able to put more focus on still life and plein air painting as well. However, portraiture is still my favorite. As people we are all so different and yet so much alike. We all possess a magnificent spirit inside us. I hope to capture that essence whether in a child’s eye or an elderly smile. I enjoy doing commissions and strive to find the magic in each person.   

How do you choose your objects for your still lifes such as the ones in your well known painting Life’s Phases?

Each object in the painting tells a bit about the phases of my life from my childhood love of ice skating, to my toy and doll phase, and to the years when I discovered baseball. When I do still life commissions, I encourage people to bring symbols of their life so I can paint the objects that tell a story representing them in a unique way. In this way, a person can create their own painting.     

In today’s world of abstract, contemporary design, do you think the realistic tradition will survive? 

 I do not think realism will ever disappear with so many museums abundantly displaying wonderful traditional art. Even today there are many art organizations and magazines that continue to emphasize the realistic tradition. 

Are students lacking today if they are not taught a rigorous classic background?  

My belief is that some study on basic drawing techniques are vital regardless of one’s direction. ‘You need to know the rules before you can break them’!  

What awards have meant the most to you? 

All awards are special, but I do remember being extremely excited when I was accepted as a finalist into the 2015 International Art Renewal Center, which is the largest, most prestigious realist art competition in the world.   

Do you have a favorite painting? 

I remember once, while at the Met, I was asked if I needed to rescue one painting, which one would it be? I chose “The Wyndham Sisters” which was painted in 1899 by John Singer Sargent. One cannot help but to be in awe of such a masterpiece which was dubbed “The Three Graces” by the Prince of Wales.    

Where do you exhibit now? 

I am currently exhibiting in the Annual Invitational Exhibition at The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James, Figuratively Speaking at the Salmagundi Club in New York City and The Big Picture at the Art League of Long Island located in Dix Hills. I encourage people to visit my website at strattongallery.com.    

Artwork from local artists add beauty and warmth

By Heidi Sutton

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson recently completed an extensive renovation of its 2 South patient unit, designed to further reduce the risk of infection and increase patient comfort. The unit, which was named for New York Cancer & Blood Specialists thanks to its generous donation, officially reopened with a ribbon-cutting celebration on Jan. 6. The project was largely supported through community donations totaling close to $1.7 million.

Opened in 1973, 2 South, which primarily treats cancer patients, now features single-bed rooms for improved patient outcomes and privacy. Enhancements include new showers and enlarged bathrooms, a new nurses station, a patient family lounge and a serenity room for staff. 

One of the highlights of the newly renovated floor is the installation of 43 pieces of art that adorn the hallway walls. Titled “Wonders of Nature,” the pieces were chosen by curator Irene Ruddock. “My goal was to create a peaceful and serene environment that might provide a sense of spiritual healing. I looked for paintings that touched the soul and will provide comfort and solace for patients, staff, and visitors,” she explained. 

Twenty-nine local artists from LIMarts, the Setauket Artists and the North Shore Art Guild donated original works to add beauty and warmth to the unit including Ross Barbera, Shain Bard, Ron Becker, Joan Bloom, Kyle Blumenthal, Renee Caine, Anthony Davis, Bart DeCeglie, Julie Doczi, Lily Farah, Marge Governale, William Graf, Peter Hahn, Celeste Mauro, Judith Mausner, Lorraine McCormick, Ed McEvoy, Eleanor Meier, Rick Mundy, Karen Miller O’Keefe, Paula Pelletier, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Joseph F. Rotella, Irene Ruddock, Ty Stroudsburg, Maria Lourdes Velez, Victoria Westholm and Patricia Yantz. 

“I will always to grateful to all the artists who, with their dedication to art, wished to share their gifts with Mather hospital,” said Ms. Ruddock.  

By Irene Ruddock

The artist at workI am immersed in art in all I do as art is infused in my soul. I dream of creating beautiful works of art which combine the visual arts, music, dance, painting, color and light. ~ Kyle Blumenthal

Kyle Blumenthal is a fine artist, juror and illustrator who specializes in painting, stage and exhibition design, video productions, murals and illustrations. She received a bachelor’s of fine arts in painting and art education from Pratt Institute and a master’s in fine arts and a master’s in painting from C. W. Post College and now holds classes at The National Art League and the Nassau County Museum of Art. Among her many achievements was being named a Mark Fellow from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

I recently visited the artist at her studio in Stony Brook where she gave me insight into her prestigious career. 

What is your vision as an artist? 

I create work that can uplift the viewer’s emotions while encouraging inner contemplation. My paintings encourage social change.

 When did you first become interested in art?  

My father was my first instructor. He was a painter and a sculptor and the president of a local art league. He taught me how to paint in oils (at the age of 5!) to sculpt and to cast my sculpture. He also was a certified public accountant for New York State. My mother was a writer, a poet and an instructor of English literature. I was brought up with great respect for the arts and to honor my passion for my art

Who is your inspiration now?  

Michelangelo is my favorite artist and friend. All the artists I have studied have become my best friends. When I go to a museum, I am visiting old friends. My inspiration is always spiritual. Nature is also a big influencer in my art, as the Earth needs our help. 

How do you incorporate your art with your belief system? 

My paintings encourage the viewer to think about themselves and how they interact with the environment. My upcoming show at the Mill Pond Gallery in January will explore the ocean and the Earth in an abstract manner. The 3-D paintings enable light to pass through the paintings giving the subliminal message of the spiritual in life. My goal is to encourage people to care for nature and wildlife. 

Are there special projects helping others that stand out? 

Because I had found my childhood dog at the Little Shelter Animal and Rescue Center in Huntington, I wanted to do something to give a voice to the animals. I created an illustration for Little Shelter in the style of Norman Rockwell. The painting has been printed as posters and sold to people to encourage donations.

What is one of your many exhibits that meant a lot to you? 

Hurricane Sandy devastated my studio at the Nassau County Museum of Art. I was chosen to exhibit my painting in Chelsea, New York titled “Tossed in the Storm,” which I was inspired to paint after the hurricane. The painting was also featured in a documentary about artists affected by that storm. 

Tell me about your piece titled ‘American Indian Musical Vibrations Rising from the Earth’ exhibiting now at the Long Island Museum. 

I created this work in honor of a colleague of mine, Professor KD Eaglefeathers, who has since passed away. I remember her large drum in her office and our conversations about the Native American language which she was working on to preserve. This painting shows musical vibrations rising from the Earth –— the water with the fish in the sea and the land above with the minerals.

What have been some of your most interesting commissions?  

I did paintings of international composers and soloists at Lincoln Center that garnered critical acclaim. I completed “Tug-of-War,” in situ, a three-panel mural for the University Café at Stony Brook University. The mural, which is over 33 feet combined, was named to reflect the struggle of bringing the old world into the new world.

How did growing up at the American Ballet Theatre influence your art? 

As a child, I spent many days at the American Ballet Theatre School watching my sister take classes where I developed my love and appreciation of dance. Many years later, I created video animations for the Spotlight Dance Company performed on stage at Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University. The animation of my paintings and drawings were created to move with the dancer’s choreography and music because I wanted my art to be a part of the performance, not a backdrop to the performance. Along with other galleries, I exhibited at the New Gallery at the Harkness Ballet Company Studios.

What inspired your “Dreams” series? 

My entire life I have been fascinated with the metaphysical world. The concept of what is real and what is illusion has always been the basis for my creations. In my “Dreams” series, I am inspired by spiritual visions that I see before I open eyes or in meditation. 

What is most rewarding to you as an art educator? 

I share my knowledge in the arts with students of all ages, particularly precollege and college students. I have successfully helped young artists as a coach and mentor and created the portfolio preparation program at the Nassau County Museum of Art. I am presently running the program for tweens, teens and adults at the National Art League.

What are you working on now?

I paint with oils on canvas and scrim and incorporate fabrics such as my silk scarves that are available at the Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook. The combinations of transparent, translucent and opaque materials in my work reflect the ethereal and material.

Has your painting method changed over the years?   

When I begin to imagine a work in my head, I see the edges as being free of stretcher strip and frames. I like to see my work float in midair. More and more of my paintings have started to come away from the wall as if to free themselves from restrictions and straight edges. 

What else do you dream of doing?  

Although I have painted my whole life, I feel as though I have just started. I have the same dreams today as I did as a young girl leaning to draw and paint. I dream of painting large-scale murals and having many museum exhibitions. Throughout my life, I have worked very hard to be the very best artist, instructor and person that I can be. I will continue to improve myself and to open the door for others. I can be reached at kyle@kylesart.com. or www.kylesart.com. 

‘Pumpkin,’ watercolor by William Graf, will be on view at the Setauket Neighborhood House from Oct. 27 to Nov. 19. Image courtesy of the Setauket Artists

The cooler weather signals the return of a perennial favorite, the Setauket Artists Fall Exhibition at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main St., Setauket from Oct. 27 to Nov. 19. The annual juried exhibit was founded by Flo Kemp, a much admired local artist. Thirty-nine years later the group, now coordinated by the group’s president, Irene Ruddock, consists of about 50 artists from all over Long Island. Together they continue the tradition of exhibiting paintings at the historic Setauket Neighborhood House along with several other venues during the year. 

Each year the artists choose an honored artist and this year’s choice is Renee Caine. “Renee has contributed an enormous amount of time to this group, creating and implementing new ideas. Because of her boundless energy Renee is always ready to help out on any occasion,” said Ruddock. Caine will be exhibiting a piece titled “Giverny #4,” part of the “Giverny Series.” 

Fred Bryant, art collector and loyal supporter who has shown his dedication to the group for over a dozen years, returns as this year’s sponsor. “Because of Fred, our group had been able to purchase many items that have added to the professionalism of the Setauket Artists and for that we are grateful,” said Vice President Rob Roehrig. 

This year’s event will be judged by contemporary realism artist David Peikon who teaches at the Art League in Dix Hills.  An open house will be held on Nov. 9 and 10 and again on Nov. 15 to 17 to meet the artists, attend tours of the exhibit and observe an artist demonstration by pastel and oil painter Anthony Davis. Visit www.setauketartists.com or call 631-365-1312 for further information.

By Irene Ruddock

I try to create art that will make the viewer smile – a cartoon in metal that tells a story.’
— Gary Garret

Huntington resident Gary Garrett, who is presently exhibiting his sculptures at the Reboli Center for Art and History until the end of October, studied advertising, art and design at SUNY Farmingdale. Having worked in various advertising industries in New York City for five years, he found that he was no longer inspired by that world, so he decided to pursue his family’s used auto parts business. While working in this industry, he recycled automotive parts to remake into the sculptures that he exhibits today. His exhibitions include Huntington Gallery, Long Island University Gallery, Mather Hospital, Reboli Center, the Salmagundi Club, the Long Island Professional Sculpture Shows and the Huntington Art League Gallery. 

Your signature piece, Who Let the Dog’s Out? is on exhibit at the Reboli Center for Art and History. What was your inspiration? 

After I saw Norman Rockwell’s painting of parents and kids going on vacation called “Coming and Going,” I was inspired to replace that vision with a depiction of a mother dog and her puppies eagerly going on vacation. 

What materials did you use for this? 

For this sculpture, I used 1948 Dodge doors that I found in the junkyard — the only “found object” in this sculpture. All the rest were sculpted by me with metal, even the eyes, hair and tongue. I tried to make the hair look as though it was bent in the wind and one of dogs eyes making contact with the viewer. I wanted all of it look as though it was moving. 

What other materials do you use to create your sculptures? 

I find components for my artwork at garage sales, farm auctions and auto salvage yards. I like to give new life to old tools, industrial gears, car parts and farm equipment incorporating them to create welded assemblages that tell a whimsical story. 

How does recycling of materials represent your view of society?

 I think it is important to save and use items from our “throw-away” society. The “found objects” that I use were made to last and I appreciate that aspect. 

What has been your most rewarding experience? 

I was thrilled to show at the prestigious Salmagundi Art Club in New York City! They showed my sculptor of President Trump on the cover of a Fifth Avenue billboard. It is a humorous piece that can be interpreted many different ways. That was thrilling! 

You choose to represent your art showing the humorous side of life. Why do you think that is?  

I have always been a storyteller                                                    to my family, friends and children. I try to take ordinary experiences from every day life that we take for granted to find the humorous side of it. We need to take time to laugh. 

Are there artists whom you particularly admire? 

I admire Norman Rockwell, Al Hirschfield and Shel Silverstein. Each saw the humor in everyday life. For instance, I love Silverstein’s book about a child who befriends a tree. I like Rockwell’s painting of all the ethnic groups working together. That one painting tells the story of how our immigration system made America. 

What are your future plans for your sculpture? 

I will be exhibiting at Deepwells Mansion in the spring. My plan is to keep doing art whenever I become inspired. I don’t know where an idea will come from next, but I am always open to it. I would also love one of my pieces to be part of a permanent collection at a children’s hospital so it could bring joy to many children. I can always be contacted at garygarett55@gmail.com or at 516-557-6990. 

I am a realist painter with a focus on light, shadow, composition and abstract design. I try to simplify detail to create a more impressionistic feeling to my realism. – Peter Hahn

By Irene Ruddock

Peter Hahn

Peter Hahn has painted in watercolor for over 35 years. Known for his bold style with clean, luminous works that exhibit his mastery of the medium, the artist has shown his painting in exhibits in New York City, Long Island and Connecticut, winning awards in almost every show he ever enters. Locally, the Port Jefferson resident shows with the Setauket Artists, Gallery North, Deepwells Mansion, the Art League of Long Island and Guild Hall.

How did you get interested in  painting?

At age 5, I was drawing Disney characters and learned drawing from John Gnagy’s “Learn to Draw” kit. Years later, when I was in high school with the late Joe Reboli (Reboli Center for Art and History), I found out that we both started with that same Gnagy drawing kit. I worked in linocuts and woodcuts for many years, but after a visit to Joe’s studio where I watched him paint, Joe encouraged me to stop woodcuts and to start working in watercolor.

Why do you prefer to work with watercolor?

I like the transparency and glow of watercolor on handmade paper. On location, called en plein air, it is quick to set up, not messy at all. All you need is water! I enjoy painting in oil and acrylics too, but I basically consider myself a watercolor painter.

You are known in Port Jefferson for years of volunteer work providing the art for the high school prom. Tell us about that.

Yes, when my daughter was a senior, my ex-wife volunteered me at a prom meeting to become the head of design and construction! Designing the prom was such an exhilarating challenge. I loved the camaraderie that all the volunteers developed using acrylic house paint to cover 10,000 square feet of cardboard and plywood.

What was your favorite prom theme?

My favorite theme was Manhattan Magic. I walked all over the city to get my inspiration. We painted a 36-foot by 96-foot piece of plywood for the whole skyline of Manhattan! I designed, and the construction team built, a replica of the 59th Street Bridge for the students to walk over to enter the prom. The lobby was Central Park, the gym was the theater district and the food court was Sardi’s and Tavern on the Green. Every year we came up with a new theme!

I learned that you are contributing a painting to Mather Hospital’s new wing. Tell us about that.

Because the theme for the new wing is Wonders of Nature, I intend to paint a Niagara Falls view with acrylic on plywood. I am in awe of the majesty of the falls, so I hope this “natural wonder” will create a healing effect for cancer patients.

I know that you follow many artists of the past, often traveling to visit their homes or museums that display their work. Who are the artist you most admire?

My role models are Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth. I learned watercolor techniques such as color lifting, dry and wet brush and mixing colors from Homer. I was thrilled to see Homer’s paintings in person at the 150th anniversary exhibit of his birth at Yale. From Sargent, I learned his technique of painting with one stroke to create something so the painting is not overworked. Hopper inspired me to have an abstract design to my realism. Finally, I was fascinated by Wyeth’s egg tempura techniques and studied one of my favorite paintings “The Night Sleeper.” Here the incredible light came only from the moon. All these and other artists inspire me to stay loose and impressionistic.

You paint many commissions. How difficult is it for you to interpret and then create what the person envisions?

By getting to know them and talking to them I get to understand their desires. Often my clients give me a series of photographs and I make detailed sketches before I begin.

Can you give us an example of commissions that you painted that met yours and the person’s goals?

Yes, one was a triptych on 300-pound, full-sized watercolor paper depicting a panoramic view of Port Jefferson. Another is a view of Mount Misery Point in Port Jefferson.

I understand you recently retired. How do you intend to spend your time?

I hope to paint as much as possible and perhaps to teach a few classes.

What is the best advice you can give a student about the art of watercolor?

I would say study all the books you can get on watercolor technique and watch videos by artists such as Tom Lynch. Go to museums to become inspired! Keep doing quick sketches en plein  air. If interested in my work or my future classes, you may reach me at peterenpleinair@aol.com or call or text me at 631-433-3721. 

Images courtesy of Peter Hahn

'Harbor Reflections' by Angela Stratton

Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook will host a summer exhibit by the Setauket Artists from July 23 to Aug. 4. 

‘Stony Brook Village’ by Joan Bloom

The show, curated by Irene Ruddock, will feature over thirty paintings with many of the paintings reflecting the beauty of Long Island.

Participating artists include Lana Ballot, Ross Barbera, Shain Bard, Eleanor Berger, Joan Bloom, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Jeanette Dick, Marge Governale, Peter Hahn, Anne Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terence McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, Paula Pelletier, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Oscar Santiago, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Angela Stratton, Laura Westlake, Marlene Weinstein and Patricia Yantz.

‘Last Goodbye’ by Lana Ballot

 The Reboli Center is pleased to welcome the group to our wonderful building,” said Lois Reboli, President of the Reboli Center.

Don’t miss the Reboli Center’s summertime display of paintings that adhere to the Setauket Artists motto, “Art for a Lifetime.”  Join the artists for a reception July 25 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Reboli Center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.  1For additional information call 631-751-7707 or visit www.ReboliCenter.org. To learn more about the Setauket Artists visit www.setauketartists.com or call 631-365-1312.

By Irene Ruddock 

Jessica Randall

Jessica Randall fabricates, casts, designs and forges unique contemporary jewelry. A graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, she has shown her jewelry in the Portland Museum in Oregon, the Holter Museum of Art in Montana as well as galleries such as the Young and Constanin Gallery in Vermont, Stones Throw Gallery in Massachusetts and the Carlyn Gallery in Texas. I recently visited Randall at her studio in East Setauket where this metalsmith of over 20 years hand makes every piece of original jewelry.

How did you get started in jewelry making? 

I initially enrolled in art school as a fashion design major. On a lark, I took a jewelry class at MassArt and fell in love! I have been making jewelry ever since.   

What is your inspiration for the creative process? 

The impulse to collect is at the heart of my creative process. I collect all kinds of natural debris like: found animal bones, skulls, beach stones, pine cones, crab claws and shells; found turtle shells, semiprecious stones, sea shells and beads. These found objects are then catalysts for designs. I will either use a material directly or use just a shape, line or texture from something I’ve found in nature.  

What else influences your art? 

As a little girl, I loved to visit the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my family. I was fascinated with medieval weaponry, taxidermy, ancient Egyptian art and Pacific adornment. As a young woman, I had the opportunity to travel through Europe and North Africa, experiencing the art from these cultures firsthand. Later in life, I lived in Texas with my husband and three sons, which instilled a love of Native American and Mexican silver jewelry. Midcentury design and Scandinavian modern design have also influenced my jewelry. 

What tools and equipment do you use?

 I own lots of tools I have collected over the years, each with a specific purpose. I also modify tools. For example, I grind down the jaws of steel pliers, then polish them to create a smooth surface that won’t mar metal. I use various shaped hammers for forging and chasing, various shaped pliers for bending and shaping and digital calipers for measuring. I use a mini drill press, a flex shaft with assorted attachments, a tumbler, polishing motor and an ultrasonic cleaner as well.

What materials do you work with? 

I like to work with both traditional sterling and argentium silver because they are relatively soft and easy to forge, yet strong enough to cut easily with a jeweler’s saw. Argentium silver is brighter and whiter than traditional sterling silver and tarnishes at a rate 70 times slower than traditional sterling silver. It is virtually tarnish-free!   

What else can you tell me about the process?  

I hand make or “fabricate” most jewelry in my studio. “Fabricating” includes forging, soldering, stone setting, tumbling and polishing. I also work with a casting and plating company. The caster uses an ancient process known as “lost wax casting” to reproduce silver multiples, which I finish and then use in designs. The plater submerges silver jewelry in a bath that chemically coats the pieces in 24-karat yellow or rose gold to produce “vermeil.” Vermeil jewelry has a thick, durable 24-karat gold finish over sterling silver, at a fraction of the price of solid gold jewelry.    

Is there a material that you wish to experiment with in the future? 

24-karat gold! 24-karat gold is 100 percent pure gold, as you probably know, not alloyed with any other metals like 10k, 14k or 18k gold. Goldsmiths love working with it because it is “like butter” … so soft and malleable. I would also like to experiment with a small-scale 3-D printer to produce resin models that could be cast. I would like to figure out how to utilize 3-D printing technology in my work, if that’s viable.  

Is there a period of jewelry making that you most admire? 

My favorite period is the 1950s and ’60s. I love the American studio jewelry movement and also modernist Mexican and Scandinavian jewelry from this time period. At midcentury, American universities across the country began offering serious metalsmithing programs. Because these skills were taught in a conceptual, university setting, jewelry began to be seen as contemporary art or miniature sculpture, not just wearable craft.  

How do you decide on an individual design?

 I make multiple versions of designs, sometimes three, five, even 10 variations of the same piece. After experimenting, I choose the one I like best and then scale back details until the design is distilled to a simple, clean piece. I also take commissions and make one-of-a- kind commissions at a client’s request.    

Are there jewelry makers whom you admire in the past or present? 

Some of my “art heroes” include Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keefe, Andy Goldsworthy, Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hube, Betty Cooke, Art Smith, Coco Chanel and Jill Platner. There are too many to list and I discover new influences every day.

What was your favorite piece that you designed? 

A favorite piece in recent memory is currently on view at Studio 268 in Setauket. It’s a large sterling silver and moss agate flower mounted on black canvas, displayed in a shadow box. I made it to illustrate the idea that jewelry is not just a functional, wearable medium; jewelry can also be viewed as “art” displayed and hung on a wall.

Did you ever have a piece that you couldn’t bear to sell? 

Yes, I made a pendant from sterling silver, horsehair and a cast plastic fishing lure that I found on the beach for our senior thesis show at MassArt. The finished pendant resembled a tiny, abstract broom, almost like a miniature African totem. I loved how it came out and wanted to use it as an inspiration for future work, so I put it in the exhibit with “Not for sale” on it.  

Where can we see your jewelry? 

My work was recently included in the Setauket Artists Spring Show at Deepwells Mansion. It is currently part of the Small Works Show in Studio 268 where my jewelry will continue to be shown through June on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Look for me in September at Gallery North’s Outdoor Art Show and Music Festival on Sept. 7 and 8. 

I can be reached at 214-906-4425 or jessrandall@sbcglobal.net.   

By Melissa Arnold

Art exhibits draw crowds for a host of reasons, often as varied as the people who attend them. For some, it’s the work of a particular artist they enjoy, while for others it may be an intriguing theme or interesting medium.

This month, the Setauket Artists have put together a collection that not only shows off local talent, but does so in a space that is attractive all on its own — the Deepwells Mansion in St. James.

The Setauket Artists hold an annual fall exhibit at the Setauket Neighborhood House, an event that’s become an important part of the area’s culture. “As the exhibit and the number of visitors grew over the years, we found the need to extend our viewing time. We were delighted when the opportunity came along to have an additional show,” said Irene Ruddock, president of the Setauket Artists in a recent interview.

“There will be close to 100 works of art on display including oil, watercolor and pastel paintings, as well as soft-ground etchings, collage and hand-painted photographs and all of them are for sale,” she added. 

Participating artists include Ross Barbera, Eleanor Berger, Catherine Bezas, Joan Bloom, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Bart Deceglie, Julie Doczi, Jeanette Dick, Marge Governale, William Graf, Peter Hahn, Melissa Imossi, Laurence Johnston, Anne Katz, Deborah Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, Joanne Liff, Celeste Mauro, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musara, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Demerise Perricone, Denis Ponsot, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Oscar Santiago, Carol Link Scinta, Sungsook Setton, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Patricia Solan, Angela Stratton, Mac Titmus, Marlene Weinstein and Patricia Yantz.

“The Setauket Artists have been in existence for 38 years . . . many of their paintings reflect the beauty of Long Island — the rivers, lakes, ocean, and bays that make this island so unique,” said Ruddock. “When curating the show, I look for paintings that touch the soul and bring the beauty of nature or a magical moment to the viewer. Every painting in the exhibit reflects our group’s motto, ‘Art is for a lifetime.’”

 Setauket Artist member Robert Roehrig agreed. “Although there is no particular theme to the exhibition, the Setauket Artists always display many beautiful scenes of our local Long Island landscape,” he said.

“The Deepwells Farm Historical Society is pleased to welcome the Setauket Artists to Deepwells Mansion for their first spring art show,” Denise Davis, a board member for the society, said. “The mansion, which is part of the Suffolk County Parks, was built in 1845 in the 16th century Greek-Revival architecture   for Joel Smith, a descendant of Smithtown’s founder Richard ‘Bull’ Smith. Deepwells is the perfect venue for displaying and sharing with the community the many local scenes of beautiful Long Island,” she added.

The community is invited to an opening reception on May 4 from 1 to 4 p.m. Refreshments and appetizers prepared by the artists will be served.

The exhibit will also include a small boutique gift shop with handmade wares from the Setauket Artists featuring jewelry, cards, scarves and small paintings. The group will continue its tradition of raffling off three different paintings on May 26, the exhibit’s last day. Visitors can enter the raffle throughout the exhibit’s run and do not need to be present to win.  Robert Roehrig, vice president of Setauket Artists, is donating his oil painting titled “Still Afloat,” and Anne Katz and Paula Pelletier will each donate a watercolor painting.

“It’s an exciting new venue for us,” said Setauket Artist member Joan Rockwell. “There will be something for everyone and the show will be open for Mother’s Day weekend too!  We’ll serve refreshments and have a flower for all those special Moms.”

Sponsored by Bryant Funeral Home, the Setauket Artists Spring Exhibit will be on view from May 4 through May 26 at the Deepwells Mansion, 2 Taylor Lane, St. James. The mansion is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.setauketartists.com. Private group or single showings can be arranged by appointment: call 631-365-1312 or email peace2429@optonline.net.

By Irene Ruddock

‘My goal as an artist is to seek beauty and truth in my paintings and to find an element that viewers can relate to.’

  William Graf

William Graf is a fine artist, professional illustrator and instructor of drawing, oil, acrylic and watercolor painting at The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James, the Art League of Long Island and the National Art League of New York. His extensive art career began after completing his drawing and old master painting studies at the Art Students League of New York and in Florence, Italy, at the Cecil- Graves Studio. 

Graf continues to be commissioned for work as an illustrator for major publishing companies. One of his noteworthy commissions was for a mural depicting a scene of President Theodore Roosevelt’s children in the White House, which was painted to be displayed in the Museum of American History. 

Recently, I had a chance to chat with the Huntington resident about his journey from graphic design to the fine art world. 

 How would you describe your work? 

Having studied with realist art instructors in the states and in Florence, Italy, my work echoes the classical realist tradition. I paint simple images in life, hoping to bring a certain poetry to my artwork.

How has your painting evolved over the years? 

I feel that my painting has matured from photographic realism to a more naturalistic style all the while incorporating good realistic principles.

What do you feel has been the most gratifying about the art world? 

The thing that gives me the most gratification in art is teaching people all that I have learned during my career. I love to impart my knowledge to students seeking to become better artists. I enjoy watching the progression when the practice of good drawing and painting come together, and the student has that “breakthrough moment.”  

In this diverse art career from graphics and design to illustration for major publishing companies, can you describe a turning point that lead you to pursue fine art? 

I’ve always kept my hand in fine art, continuing to paint landscapes, portrait commissions and still life while working as an illustrator. The crossover stemmed from the fact that most of my illustration work was figure oriented with landscape backgrounds, so, for me, it was a natural crossover. 

You still are actively commissioned by major publishing companies for illustration. What fine art qualities do you bring to this? 

Yes, I am still actively taking on commercial illustration projects, such as book cover design, illustration and children’s books. In my illustrations, I try to incorporate a higher aesthetic, whether it be in composition or drawing. I strive to make my illustration and fine art synonymous.

Your awards and scholarships are from prestigious organizations —The International Miniature Portrait Society, etc. Is there one award that is most meaningful to you?

There was one award that had a meaningful impact on my fine art career. A few years back, I painted a self-portrait and decided to show it at a juried portrait show at the Huntington Arts Council. Well, the judge was Kevin McEvoy, director of The Atelier at Flowerfield and he awarded the self-portrait “best in show!”

You now teach at The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James. Why did you choose to teach there? 

After winning that best of show award I was approached by Kevin McEvoy to consider a teaching position there. The timing was perfect. We both studied in Florence with the same instructor so our backgrounds were similar. What we teach is classical realism with emphasis on “sight size” drawing and painting. The type of study is in the tradition of the European atelier system where students can observe the techniques as demonstrated by the instructors. All levels of students are in my classes from beginners to professionals who wish to learn the old masters’ techniques of painting. 

What about your future excites or inspires you? 

I will be teaching a plein air workshop in Cortona, Italy, in June 2019. This will be a Tuscan landscape workshop with some portraiture.The following September I will teach a workshop in Maine where we will paint in various locations that Winslow Homer painted. Come join us! I am also looking forward to having a solo exhibit at the Barnes Gallery in Garden City in October. For details, visit my website at www.williamgraffineart.com.