When you look at a landscape painting, perhaps you see a meadow, trees and maybe a building. But what did the artist see? What made her want to paint that particular scene? “For me, it’s always about the light. Always! Whatever the subject,” said the Hamilton, N.J., artist Pat Proniewski.
This painter’s love affair with light took a meandering route. Proniewski liked her introductory art class in high school so well, she dropped French so she could take the advanced class the following year. She chose art education as a college major and taught high school art for 37 years. For much of that time, she was an avid ceramist, with a wheel and full-scale kiln in her studio. Then one winter in her unheated basement, she dreamed of painting outside in the warmth of summer.
In 2014, she decided she “wanted to be a painter, and not by myself, but in a community of artists. I wanted to talk with other artists, and learn from them, and take classes, and be part of all that shared energy.”
She started taking classes with area artists she admired. Perhaps because she had been an educator, she had the insight that painting may be a solitary pursuit, but being an artist is actually about sharing your ideas with other artists and the public.
That makes her a perfect fit for the Arts & Cultural Council, whose mission is to enrich, inspire and promote the arts experience for artists and the public.
Proniewski participates in several arts organizations locally, and nationally has won awards for her highly detailed realist paintings.
“I look at a wide range of artwork and I like the variety of styles I see, including abstraction. But realism remains my passion. It’s a challenge to represent how light affects surfaces. It takes a lot of looking, and a lot of concentration to get it right.”
Her favorite subjects? “I like portraits and landscapes, and flowers are complex and fun to paint. But it comes back to light every time. I’m painting how light invites the viewer’s eye to see things in a fresh way.” For her, “light is energy, it’s uplifting.” She thinks this may originate in her deep-seated optimism. “I’d like to believe I’ll always find something good in a situation.”
Proniewski’s advice to busy people who want to be artists? “Draw, draw, draw. Make time for it, even when your life is busy. Keep at it. See where it can lead you. You’re likely to have more time later, and you’ll have a running start because you kept your hand in.”
Local Color is a column produced by the Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County. It appears on the first Thursday of each month.