During the Pandemic: A Conversation with Rosalie Sidoti

Written by: Francesca Sinnott

Pictured above: Requiem, oil on linen, 24”x 36”

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Pictured: Rosalie Sidoti

When you look at one of Rosalie Sidoti’s remarkable paintings for the first time, you will want to take a closer look, because its beauty is not only in the final result but also in each individual brushstroke. Neither pure impressionist, nor realist, Rosalie’s paintings strive to capture the beautiful essence of a place, figure or object. Influenced by John Singer Sargent, George Inness, and Marguerite Stuber Pearson, who showed remarkable technical facility, Rosalie will draw loosely with the brush and “strive to get the brush stroke right first and foremost”. “I want the viewer to see the energy that I put into the brush. My focus is on capturing the fleeting impression of a scene and the mood that it creates. I want people to stand in front of my paintings and look at them for a while. Most importantly, I want my work to be a reflection of my authentic self.”  Rosalie’s acceptance in to Co|So in 2017 was “a defining moment” in her artistic career as it was an association she had longed for, for many years. “I was probably the happiest new member they ever had!”  Rosalie has two paintings in the Co|So Holiday Works show.

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Pictured: Conversion at Rocky Neck, oil on linen, 9”x12”

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Pictured: Moonshot over Salt Island, oil on linen, 9”x12”

Rosalie’s compassion for others as both mother and teacher stands out just as much as her art. She spent the first 6 weeks of the pandemic cooking and delivering meals to her family members who got Covid-19 in early March, when so little was known about the virus. “My heart breaks for all those families who have suffered from this virus and been affected by it“. During that time, her weekly painting workshops with the Newburyport Art Association were cancelled.  Also cancelled were her workshops with the Veterans at the Rockport Art Association and Museum that she has enjoyed for the past 4 years. “Art is a powerful therapy. I saw this first hand working with men whose battle scars were hidden.  I miss seeing their personal and artistic growth.” Rosalie was able to continue to supervise her graduate students at Tufts University via Zoom this spring until classes ended in June.

Teaching no classes, has allowed Rosalie to dedicate herself entirely to her own work

Cape Ann and the Gloucester coast where Rosalie and her family live are surrounded by ocean and marshes. Throughout the pandemic, she has taken advantage of her easy access to these locations, painting both en plein air and in her home studio. Rosalie describes working in her light filled studio as a Zen-like experience, as she can work peacefully while recharging at the same time. She prefers to paint large canvases and will work on 3 paintings at once. Sometimes she will “put in 5 miles in a day” in her studio just putting down a stroke and then stepping back to look at it. “When I finally learned not to be afraid of scraping away a brush stroke and redoing it, my paintings got better and I became more confident in my work.” To avoid over painting, Rosalie will force herself to clean her brushes when she is finished and walk away. She takes a photograph at the end of each session, so that she can later objectively view her work again without the temptation of changing a brush stroke. Her frames are hand carved 22-karat gold leaf.

Rosalie has been in several virtual and live exhibitions in Rockport, Gloucester and Jeffersonville, VT, most recently the Salon of Solos Exhibition and the current RAA&M National 2020 Show at the Rockport Art Association & Museum. She also has been busy with commission work.

 

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Pictured: Good Harbor Sunset, oil on linen, 24”x30”

 “Unintentionally, The ebb and flow of the water around me became a central theme in my work this year and has become a metaphor for our lives this year.”

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Pictured: Salt Island Surf, oil on linen, 16”x20”

Prior to becoming a full time artist in 2006, Rosalie taught fine arts in a city high school for over 30 years; however, she always maintained a place in her home to work on her own art.” Over the past fourteen years she has become an integral part of the Cape Ann artist community and has been accepted in to prestigious art organizations like the Co|So, as well as the Rockport Art Association and Museum and the North Shore Arts Association among others. 

Classically trained in the techniques of the Old Masters with an extensive art education, pencil drawing was Rosalie’s first medium. She describes how a summer graduate exchange program between Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Fine Art and the MA College of Art and Design had the most impact on her. I learned how to draw the figure from every angle; but most importantly the professor taught me to not compare myself to the contemporaries but only to the masters if I wanted to grow as an artist. This was advice I have carried with me.

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Pictured: Sugar Peonies, oil on linen, 24”x30”

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Pictured: lluminated, oil on linen, 18”x24”

 “A common anxiety among young artists is how they are going to support themselves. My advice is to always have an easel close by so that they can pursue their art, and remind themselves of the artist within them, even if they have to make a living doing something else for a while. Sometimes it takes a long time to get to the point where you can pursue your art, as it happened to me.” She pauses and smiles brightly, “but now look at where I am.”