"South Jersey: By Land & Sea"
A solo exhibition
By: Renee Leopardi
October 1 - 31
"Meet the Artist" Reception:
Friday, October 11, 7pm - 8:30pm
Renee was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and after 12 years of Catholic school, she immediately joined the work force. Within a year after high school, she decided it would be best to continue her education and worked her way through night school to achieve an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Cincinnati. During those years, she met many wonderful people, one of which is her husband, who grew up in southern New Jersey. In 2002, she relocated to southern New Jersey to start a family and has never looked back. She has 2 children, a son and a daughter, both of which supply her with much inspiration.
From early childhood, Renee has always been interested in art. However, art was never pushed or nurtured as a possible career path, so art became a hobby for years. In 2008, she took an Advanced Painting workshop at Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia. From then on, she knew her focus had to change. Since that first workshop, she has continued to further her art education through workshops and independent study including Life Drawing and plein air painting sessions with fellow local artists.
Although she worked in oils for years, she found new passion in painting with pastels. Through her studies, she realized that painting with pastels pushed her to explore and create more than she thought she could. Working with pastels can be quick and expressive in a way she wasn’t finding before. Working with pastels has also altered her overall painting style by giving it a turn toward impressionism.
She finds joy painting a wide variety of subjects including portraits and particularly the local seasonal landscapes of southern New Jersey; from the ocean and marshes to creeks and woods to farmland.
Renee also finds much joy with the recent addition of sharing her experiences with others through teaching classes and workshops on pastel painting and charcoal drawing.
Even when art wasn’t at the forefront of my life, it has always been there for me and is what I identified with. Not until these last few years, has painting become such a huge necessity in my life. It had always been a driving force, just pushed to the background. But now painting is front row and center. I find so much inspiration everywhere I turn; it’s in the way I look at an object, the sky, a room, art supplies, the excitement of viewing another artist’s work. I am constantly contemplating the next body of work or method to explore. Art is also about learning; whether through observation, reading a book, taking a workshop or trial and error. I continually strive to learn something new from the world around me and especially through the people I’ve met along my journey. Through learning we face new challenges and ideas. We learn to push the envelope; venture into uncharted artist territories of expression. These lessons consistently push us to move forward and grow.
Working primarily in pastel, I enjoy exploring the local landscapes throughout every season here in New Jersey. All the supplies I need are packed neatly in a backpack and I can just go. Friends and I meet once or twice a week to paint together. During that time, I paint multiple small field sketches taking note of the colors, lights and shadows that I’m experiencing. These field sketches along with a few photo references are later used back to the studio for work during the rest of the week and when the weather is not cooperating.
In the field, while my paper may be small, my strokes are large and loose. The goal is to capture as much information as I can before the light changes and without getting lost in the details. I do love details but want to save that for the larger pieces created after in the studio. Once back in the studio, the more careful process of planning and painting begins. With the bones of the painting properly laid out on the paper or board, the music is turned on, usually loud, and the fun begins.