BY Cady Kuzmich
GLENVILLE — After teaching music to elementary schoolchildren for 25 years, Barbara Aldi decided to try her hand at something entirely new.
After retiring, she said, “I had the freedom to pursue a direction I dreamt about: painting with watercolors.”
Aldi, who lives in Glenville, first dove into the world of art by attending a Chinese brush painting class at the Schenectady Museum, where she studied with nationally known artist Leigh Wen. It was here that Aldi realized she wanted to begin taking basic painting classes. “Since I was a total novice to this medium and never had a formal art background I was in desperate need of what I call ‘Painting 101’ ” she explained.
“Pat Parker was teaching a beginning painting course in Burnt Hills and it was there where I learned the basics of painting techniques.”
While her heart is in painting these days, Aldi said her youth was devoted to music. She attended a performing arts high school where she was able to focus her attention on playing piano. After graduating, Aldi attended the Crane School of Music in Potsdam. While she devoted most of her energy to music, she took a ceramics class as an elective. “I still have the vase I made!” she said.
Aldi first realized her passion for watercolors after browsing art galleries in Westport, Connecticut, with her cousin. “We did buy a few pieces, but it was very clear that I couldn’t afford the prices. That’s exactly when I decided to try to paint my own. I developed the foil painting years later.
“The rest is history,” she said.
Aldi explained what keeps her painting: “There’s always an element of surprise and anticipation in the process and many times, to my amazement, it takes on a life of its own,” she said.
She explained a bit about herself and her art:
Q: Who has influenced you most as an artist?
A: Karen Rosasco was a major influence in my life as an artist. She strongly emphasized the importance of composition, color interaction, texture, balance and how a painting is perceived in its entirety.
Q: Do you listen to music while you paint?
A: I don’t generally listen to music while painting. Being a classically trained musician, I am an active rather than passive listener. Therefore, it might be more of a distraction.
Q: Describe your painting process. Do you plan your paintings before you begin?
A: The only thing I plan when approaching a new painting is what I’m going to paint on; either paper or aluminum foil. Choosing colors are of prime importance as well. It is then when my painting “takes off.”
Q: As a member of the Southern Saratoga Artist’s Society, what does SSAS mean to you?
A: SSAS has afforded me many opportunities in not only exhibiting my work, but being extremely supportive. We have incredible artists as members, who have given demonstrations regarding their own personal approach to their art. They have inspired the rest of us. We never feel threatened in terms of our ability. I am truly thankful.
Q: Can you discuss how you paint on foil?
A: The process includes choosing the colors that I think will interact at first. I choose Golden Liquid acrylic paint and am very satisfied with the results. After pouring two to three colors on the foil, I manipulate it by holding it up and turning in different directions to witness the exciting, unexpected and unplanned direction it takes. It is then when I might pour a different color and blow into a straw “chasing” the various colors. A totally new color and shape appears! This is when I decide whether the composition itself has interest and if not, I work it by adding more texture and design. The entire painting has to remain wet while working on it. To say the very least, it’s exhilarating.
Q: What do you think of when you’re painting? Is it like a form of mediation or are you constantly focused on your vision and the end-goal?
A: One might think that this is a form of meditation, but I’m more interested in the process and as I stated, “the element of surprise and anticipation.”