I would label myself as a creative person. I’m a photographer and a person that loves to craft. I don’t have an issue with trying new things even if I have never done them before. My latest project was making a hot glue mask and fairy wings. I made one out of hangers that drooped so badly, I had to start over with a heavy wire. But I figured it out. Needless to say, my nieces loved the wings and mask and now own them both. As for the glitter, well…the husband has tons of glitter on his shop floor. Hahaha! Oops!
This project made me think there must be artists in the area that are doing something different or out of the box. Well, I found three types. Chanelle Rene paints with hot wax! That I’ve never tried! Douglas Salvatoriello takes pictures around Cape May and turns them into a work of art. I first thought they were paintings. Finally, I found Phillip Courtney whose watercolor paintings are so realistic, I initially thought they were photos-turned-painting. I was completely wrong. I am in love with each of these artists’ work and thought, hey let’s find out who’s behind these works of art. I truly hope you find it as amazing as I do.
How long have you been taking pictures?
I have been taking photographs since college where I learned to use film and developing it. Over the years I added different subjects and styles from sports, nature, florals, and now historic homes and towns.
Did you go to school for photography or is it a hobby?
I am a self a taught photographer spending a lot of time reading and looking at other photographers’ work that I admire and most of all, just getting out there shooting. From there I learn what works and what doesn’t No… I try to read about different techniques and looked at the work of other photographers that I liked. It has become a hobby that challenges me on every shoot
When did you start taking your pictures and turning them into works of art?
About a year or so ago I started playing around with some special effects on some images I took in Cape May and one thing lead to another and from there experimented with different effects and textures and came upon the watercolor like images I now produce.
Do you use a program or do you paint the photography?
I use a special effects program on the computer that can add effects, textures and other effects too.
How long does it take to produce what you feel is the perfect picture?
After the hours of shooting to get an inventory of images, I then review them and select out the ones I really think will be impressive. It can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes an image depending how much I want to create the digital art.
Where is your favorite spot to take pictures?
I have a number of spots in the state but the history of Cape May and the homes and buildings are of particular interest. It could be on the beach or roaming the streets looking for the right home or building or something unusual that catches my eye.
Website instagram @dougsalvatoriello
When did you first go to Cape May?
I was born in West Cape May, so enjoying Cape May year-round was just a part of growing up. Even after moving to Delaware at the age of 3, I would spend summers and holidays at my grandparents’ home in West Cape May. Beach days in Cape May were always my favorite, spending hours in the ocean jumping waves. As an adult, I’ve lived in Delaware and Maryland but the calling of the Jersey shore and my family connections have made Cape May home.
What type of medium do you like to use when you paint? Why?
My materials and process deeply satisfy my adventurous soul and curious sense of wonder. I’m drawn to more traditional mediums and work primarily in oils or encaustic wax medium. For oils, I start with a graphite and mixed media underpainting then complete the painting in oils using warms and cools to create depth in my work. When it comes to encaustic it is essentially painting with wax and fire. The pigmented beeswax medium is melted then I paint on a wood panel and fuse each layer of wax with a torch. From buttery oils to the unique beeswax scent and tactile nature of encaustic, they just pull you in – sparking awe, curiosity and conversation for viewers.
Was art something you went to school for or was this a hobby?
My journey to become an artist unfolded later in life. I have a BA in Communications from Rowan University and worked in design and marketing for most of my career. I started exploring different creative outlets just for myself like fashion illustration which led into painting. Then around the age of 40, I took the leap and fully embraced my creative spirit to become a professional artist, studying classical painting and contemporary encaustic portraiture.
What do you like to paint the most and why?
I’m fascinated with faces so I mostly paint “soulful portraits” that capture women of color, the journey of self-discovery, and the freedom that comes from being true to self. Core to my vision as an artist is “the only limit is your soul’s desire” – guiding me to bring work into the world that inspires the heart of the free spirit. My goal is to pioneer a full spectrum of modern beauty, unbridled and free, in a world of endless possibilities.
How long does it take to create a painting from start to finish, including cleanup?
Once I’ve collected references and created digital sources for my paintings, I like to work on at least 2 paintings at a time. It takes about a week to complete both including drying time for various stages. Each studio day, I set up my palette with fresh paint then clean my palette and brushes when done for the day. Since my studio space is a dedicated sunroom, I’ll leave paintings on my easel and quickly organize the space so I can start painting the next day.
Do you need to listen to music or have something to get your creativity going?
Most often I’ll loosen up with a quick 30-minute sketch and set a timer forcing me to capture the most important details and not overwork it. Sometimes I’ll listen to music on Spotify and it’s usually 80s music. But working in a quiet studio is nice too.
What would be the one thing you would tell a young artist to avoid?
I would tell young artists to avoid listening to negative advice. Especially around the idea of the “starving artist” or questions about “when are you going to get a real job?” Continue to create art every day, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece it’s about honing your skills and finding your voice. Share your work and the story behind it. No matter what’s happening in the world people need hope, beauty, and the powerful messages that you want to convey with your art.
What was the first painting you did in Cape May?
My first painting titled “Summertime in Cape May” was a digital artwork mapping out Cape May island and highlighting some of my favorite locations and activities.
Do you release your work as a show? If not, how?
In 2019, I prepared my first collection titled “Surrender” of encaustic painting and was selected to show at Art Space in West Cape May in the summer of 2020. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the show was canceled. Since then I’ve been sharing new art on Instagram and available work. Currently, I’m working on a new collection of paintings inspired by Zodiac signs and cosmic energy. These pieces will be released over the summer. I look forward to showcasing my own work in addition to exhibiting with galleries.
Website Instagram @beingchanellerene
When did you decide to start your art career?
I have had an interest in art since third grade and decided to pursue an art career in high school.
Did you go to school for art or was this a hobby for you ?
Art was never a hobby for me. I’ve been passionate about painting for a very long time. Following high school, I attended art school in Philadelphia at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
When was the first time you came to Cape May? Where did you stay?
I first started coming to Cape May in the 1980’s for vacation. We used to rent a house in Cape May Point. I moved to West Cape May in 1995 with my wife and two children and I found that Cape May is a great place to raise your kids.
What is your favorite type of painting and medium that you like to use?
I appreciate most types of painting but I prefer to paint in a realistic style using watercolors or oils.
How long does it take you to start your painting process?
It varies because I work realistically and often the subjects are landscapes, architecture, seascapes or are details from all of these. I begin the process by taking many photographs of the chosen subject from different perspectives with a variety views and at different times during the day. After reviewing the photographs on my computer, I usually can decide what I will paint. At that point I’ll decide whether the image will work best as an oil painting or a watercolor, and the size of the piece. A very detailed painting can take up to 40 hours to complete. I will often paint subjects on location that are studies for a larger painting. Painting outdoors helps to sharpen the eye and is helpful to see unique details not caught by a photograph.
Have you ever finished a painting, then painted over it and started over?
If a painting is not going well I may set it aside for three or four months and then take another look at it. Sometimes this works and I’m able to finish the painting. Other times I will just discard it. I believe that every painting should be a challenge and a learning experience. A failed painting is part of that learning experience to become a better artist and to push yourself to attempt new methods and techniques. Each time I begin a painting, I want it to be the best I have ever completed. Its success depends on how much I learned during the process to use going forward.
If you had to chance to talk to a young artist, what would your words of wisdom be?
I would tell a young artist to be always open to learning new things either by studying the works of the Old Masters, the art of those they admire, and even taking workshops from other artists. An artist of any art form should never be completely satisfied with what they have done but rather continue to move forward with their past experiences and successes to create something new. Art, like so many other activities, should be a lifetime journey.
Do you display your work in art shows? If so, where?
Yes, I’ve had several shows at the FAN Gallery in Philadelphia. By invitation, I also participated in several of the John Peter Museum International Juried Art Exhibitions. I’ve had several shows here in Cape May including at the Soma NewArt Gallery. I have an upcoming show there this summer, opening June 5 and on display until July 4. The artist’s opening is June 5, 6-9 pm.
Website Instagram @philcourtneyartwork
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