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Margaret Cerutti: Saying it With Paint

Untitled, oil on board, by Margaret Cerutti. Winner of The Art League Best in Show Award.
Untitled, oil on board, by Margaret Cerutti. Winner of The Art League Best in Show Award.

Sometimes, it takes just a sketch to say what you want to say. That’s particularly true in the case of this untitled painting — by Margaret Cerutti, an Art League and Torpedo Factory artist — that appears in our March Open Exhibit.

“I’m so impressed that the artist was able to make such a small area of paint say so much,” said juror Zoma Wallace of the painting, which she selected for The Art League Best in Show Award.

The artist is currently in Amsterdam on one of The Art League’s travel workshops, but we reached her so she could tell us more about her painting:

What was your goal with this painting? If you had to give it a title, what would it be?
Margaret Cerutti: My goal — the subject’s profile and heavily textured skin beckons you to address the sense of pride, self-confidence, and wisdom that comes with age. If titled, it would reflect those aspects.

How did you know when it was finished?
You realize when you have made your “artistic statement” and there is nothing more to be added or deleted. You have said what you want to say. It is all there …

How does your creative process differ for a portrait as opposed to a plein air painting?
In any painting I do, there needs to be something about the subject that I want to capture or investigate further. In a portrait, it is usually an emotion, a sense of attitude, a special look, or interesting body feature that I want to emphasize.

In plein air, it is more about the light and how it transforms a landscape, capturing atmospheric interest or interesting color relationships.

Last Winter Snow, oil on linen, by Margaret Cerutti
Last Winter Snow, oil on linen, by Margaret Cerutti

What’s one tool that you couldn’t live without?
I have more than one. One of my favorite brushes is the Isabey cat’s tongue. How your brush behaves is everything, and this one, especially in a size 1 or 2, is wonderfully consistent for sharp details and laying in small areas of color. I love a sharpened brush handle for scratching in details.

I also like to use black and white reference photos. It refreshes your thoughts when the subject matter is not there. You review them, and put them away. Then, let your own color sense go wild!

What are you working on now?
I am working on two commissions of children’s portraits. In these instances, the focus is on innocence and delicacy of features… quite different from my piece in The Art League show!

The March Open Exhibit is open through Sunday, April 3.

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