Rosalie Ripaldi Shane’s radiantly colored oil paintings are an antidote to the clocks having turned back and the hours of daylight growing shorter.
Through Dec. 4, you can see her images of summer in the Feldman Family Artspace at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, whose exhibitions are curated through juried selection by the Featherstone Center for the Arts. What immediately strikes the viewer about Shane’s paintings as you first walk into the lobby is their deeply textured surfaces. They are visible marks of Shane’s brushwork, evoking the feeling she has just left off working.
The first set of paintings, which vary in size, are extreme close-up floral compositions, each petal sculpturally defined. You seem to be bending down as if to smell the luscious “Hydrangeas, Purple and Blue” and “Yellow Roses and Blue.” We step back a little, taking in a larger swathe in Shane’s “Golden Suns in My Garden,” although the sunflowers do seem to be reaching out towards us, as though moving off the canvas into our space. Shane describes even more depth of field in “Hydrangeas/Edgartown Light,” with the lighthouse in the far distance along the horizon line and flowers right in front of us. Here you can see how she loves adding small touches of different colors on top of the initial thick pigment once it dries. Shane says, “A petal is not just one color; as it moves in the light it becomes almost iridescent.”
In the middle of the show is the amusing “Ice Cream Garden” in which six different flavored scoops of the frozen dessert sit on top of brown waffle cones. They seem to march across the canvas until you notice that each one is rooted in the lawn. The impasto of her highly saturated pigments brings these inanimate objects to life. Equally as amusing is an array of small, 5-inch x 4-inch paintings of individual candy-colored cupcakes stacked in three rows of four with their titles around the sides. The celebratory colors of the frosting look disconcertingly real, as if she’s just topped off these deliciously enticing treats.
The baked goods tie to the origin of Shane using thick impasto. “I began that technique when I started doing my cupcake paintings,” she explains. “My first one was a gift to my then 1-year-old granddaughter. I had a painting similar to the ones you see but with a candle in it. I realized I could make the frosting look almost real by using a palette knife and smearing the paint on the way I frost a cupcake. It was wonderful; it dried and looked like frosting.”
The exhibit’s subsequent four works — a single sailboat on the water and expansive skies in different aquatic Vineyard settings — suggest a specific time of day, temperature, and level of wind on the water’s surface. The calm, cool colors of the last canvas, “January, Edgartown Harbor,” is a harbinger of a real seascape we’re soon to see. “My house sits on Edgartown Harbor,” Shane says. “I took a photograph about four years ago of this sailboat that was left there all winter. It really looked like a ghost ship that morning in the fog. That one didn’t need any impasto but a film of gray over it.”
Shane was born in Boston and started sketching and creating art as a child. “I didn’t major in art in college because I was much too practical,” she says. “I didn’t believe I could make a living doing art. I taught history after I graduated. It wasn’t until I had my first child and wasn’t working that my husband encouraged me to paint. I started studying with one person and then another forty-nine years ago.”
She began with oils and then switched to gouache and watercolor. About 22 years ago, Shane decided to return to oil painting. “It was like learning it all over again because I hadn’t been working in it for so long,” she says. “I was having fun and doing some work. I was always pretty skilled at it.”
Shane, who lives in Boston during the winter and has been a summer resident of Edgartown since 1979, now paints full-time. And since 1989, she has managed 10 studios in Framingham, Mass., using one and subleasing the remaining nine. She has long-established art ties on the Island, becoming a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association in 1983 and exhibiting at its home in the Old Sculpin Gallery, and other Vineyard venues.
“Rosalie Ripaldi Shane: Texture, Color, and Light” is on view at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society in Vineyard Haven through Dec. 4.