Sylvia Nitti, Artist of the Month

Sylvia Nitti • Tahlequah, Oklahoma •

The Storm (pastel, 27×35)

Nitti’s process:
I usually paint my pastels on 100% rag cold press surface because it enables me to use watercolor as an under painting. During the initial stage, I lay a single very dark wet-in-wet layer of watercolor on the board. I use this method, rather than drybrush, because I feel it makes my paintings more expressive and it creates a sense of movement. For The Storm, I also used salt and denatured alcohol to create textural effects. After this base layer of watercolor, I continue my paintings using soft pastels. I vary the method for applying the pastels alternating between firm strokes and lightly blended areas. Then, I switch to even softer pastels and continue to build up layers of color. For this particular painting, I also used iridescent pastels. In the latter stages, I use a dry watercolor brush to lightly soften edges. I finish a painting by adding thick strokes of the brightest lights for highlights.
Inspiration for The Storm:
I am a native of Cyprus and for many years I have been moved by the unique beauty of one of the beaches on the island. When the idea for this painting came to me, I knew this beach was the ideal setting for the image. My daughter Brooke was the model for the painting. I have painted her many times since she was born and she continues to be a favorite source of inspiration. I knew Brooke would work perfectly as the subject because of our connection and her ability to provide the pose and expression I was looking for. With this pastel, my hope was to convey visually, in a symbolic narrative, the emotions I was experiencing at that moment in my life. My goal was to create a painting that was unique, meaningful and timeless. The Storm took about a month to complete.

Art Education and Experience:
I have been drawing since I can remember. I was very quiet and shy as a kid and art became a way to express myself. As I was growing up I realized that nothing pleased me more than drawing. At the age of 17 I left Cyprus, my native island, and came to the USA to study art. I received my bachelors of art degree from Brescia, a small private university in Kentucky.

I am currently an art instructor teaching drawing and pastel classes at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. When I’m not teaching I paint portraits and create work for galleries and art shows.

The Reason She Paints:
Art has become a need. I can’t imagine a life without creating artwork. Creating art is also a way of self discovery and exploration. It’s a way to record and express my emotions and ideas.

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