Artist Member Spotlight: Paul St. Onge
by Chanel Ross
Paul St. Onge always had an interest in visual art. He studied photography for years, but in 1980 he became interested in painting. He’s taken many of the classes offered at Arts Center East. He began by learning drawing techniques and then moved on to study acrylics with Shauna Shane and Elizabeth Krall. Inspired to keep creating, art became a “serious hobby” for Paul. His experience with photography, drawing, and painting converged. Now he prefers acrylics to paint the world around him.
Paul’s work shows his interest in the effect light has on objects. A scene with high light/dark contrast inspires him to paint. Though he has found the lighting and atmosphere of a cloudy day intriguing enough to pull out his paints as well. Paul doesn’t impose meaning on any of his pieces, rather, he leaves that open to the interpretation of the viewer. Yet he does create a mood in each of his paintings through his use of color and construction of his composition. In, “Let There be Light,” and “Westbrook Morning,” he uses warm, clear color in an open composition. This keeps the mood bright and happy. Whereas, in another of his other paintings, “Have a Seat,” the colors are cooler and darker. The piece is cropped close up of the still life making it more melancholy.
While influenced by other artists, he doesn’t try to copy them. Paul pays attention to the elements of the works he likes and executes them in his style. Acrylics allow him to articulate what’s around him, whether from a photo he’s taken, a landscape, or a still-life set up. “I wanted to try something different, but in my way.”
This is also true about his abstract pieces. Paul likes abstraction but didn’t want to do something that would make people say, “That’s kind of like a Pollock.” So he put his spin on it and focuses on elements he feels are true to his style. He uses tape resist to create geometric shapes and within those shapes paints loose and wild. With this approach, he creates an abstract piece all his own.
At the end of the day, for Paul, creating art is an exploratory process. His goal is to “get better,” much like how master artists continue to grow throughout their career. To do so, he continues to take classes whenever he can. He believes that through learning he can continue to evolve as an artist.