Don Strongoli – Watercolor and Pastel

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Don Strongoli Head Shot

What are your favorite mediums to work with?

I am attracted to pastels because of their powerful brilliance and strong saturated color. Pastels contain the highest concentration of pure pigments and the lowest ratio of binders and fillers. Pastels can also be used to create delicate color blends. I like that they can be applied dry, like graphite, chalk or crayons.

And I am also fascinated by the extreme opposite nature of watercolor with its wet and highly fluid application. Watercolor is unique among mediums for the luminosity it achieves through its transparency and incredible sense of light by revealing the whiteness of the paper underneath as it allows light to pass through its pigment particles and reflect back to the eyes.

Please describe your creative process.

Being a representational painter, it starts with something striking about an object that catches my eye due to an unusual or pleasing aesthetic. Then I try to capture and emphasize that unique quality, whether it is a mood, dramatic lighting, intriguing compositional interaction or other aspect. It could be a still life, landscape, portrait, animal or pet.

What is the most influential piece of art that you have experienced?

I have been fortunate enough to see many of the world’s breathtaking masterpieces and they are all truly inspirational. However, seeing the incredible Vincent Van Gogh’s rolling night sky, full of luminous stars, over a sleepy village in The Starry Night at the Museum of Modern Art in New York – knocked my socks off!

Name artists that inspire you and why.

Da Vinci – for singlehandedly raising art to the highest level
Raphael – for his exquisite madonna paintings
Rembrandt – for his masterful use of light and dark
Vermeer – The Girl With a Pearl Earring. What more can I say?
Bouquereau – for his beautiful idealistic renderings of peasant women
The Pre-Raphaelite artists – for their near-photographic yet poetic symbolism
The Impressionists – for daring to be different and struggling for their vision
The 20th Century artists who broke all the rules to share their interpretations with us

When did you start making art and why?

Ever since I can remember, music and the visual arts attracted me the most and at a young age I found more pleasure trying to create music and art than pursuing any other activity. As a kindergarten teacher, I found ways for the children to express themselves through music and art, and introduced them to many famous artists of the past and gave my students the chance to create art based on the techniques of the masters

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