By Cady Kuzmich
Clifton Park — Fine granules of sand and small pieces of broken shells from Neskowin Beach in Portland, Oregon mixed with glitter transform a previously blank canvas into something unique.
Cynthia Whitman Stoll, of Clifton Park, has dabbled in many forms of art — ceramics, painting architecture, drip paintings and abstracts. “Drip paintings are the opposite from the detailed surrealistic paintings in terms of control,” she noted. “I consider abstract work to be a fun Rorschach challenge. Mental imagery is indispensable,” said Whitman Stoll. She first began experimenting with abstracts in the winter when she said her paint dries slower, making special effects easier to obtain.
Now, the Clifton Park woman has moved on to assemblage pieces like the one with the Portland sand. Her latest works utilizes everything from bowtie pasta, couscous and seashells to rubber bands and spray paint. Her outdoor art studio in her backyard is stocked with large canvasses and just about every shade of spray paint imaginable.
“Art takes me to another place,” she said. “It’s a form of meditation.”
Whitman Stoll said one of the signatures is the use of dots in her paintings. “Some people interpret them as stars,” she said. “My goal is to spark a sense of surprise,” she added.
Originally from New Jersey, Whitman Stoll relocated to Geneva in her teenage years because her step-father’s job with the United Nations required the family to move. Stoll attended high school in Switzerland. It was at the school in Geneva that Stoll discovered her love of ceramics. “They had an expansive ceramics program,” she recalled. Eventually, after earning a bachelor’s degree in geology, she found her way to Rutgers where she earned her Masters of Fine Arts in ceramics and sculpture. She later spent a decade in Princeton and several years in Los Angeles before moving back to the east coast.
While she lived in Princeton, Whitman Stoll said she taught a ceramics seminar at the university in a “very unofficial capacity. “Not for credit, just for people who wanted to try ceramics,” she explained. Stoll now offers painting classes two days a week out of her home in Clifton Park. She described her time in Princeton as “very stimulating.”
She met her husband, Larry, in 1998, the year she graduated from Rutgers. The two married the following year. Since Larry is a native of Albany County the couple moved to the Capital Region shortly after. Larry now works in pharmaceutical marketing. The couple has been living in Clifton Park for 17 years.
Though Whitman Stoll cites Grandma Moses and Milton Avery as artistic inspirations, she said her introduction to the world of art and her lasting commitment to the craft can be traced back to her father, Robert Whitman. She said her father cofounded Experiments in Art and Technology, a nonprofit which sought to forge connections between artists and engineers in the 1960s, with Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Kluver. Whitman Stoll called her father a “pioneer in the field of performance art,” as well.
Her mother, a homemaker, had a great eye for color, according to Stoll. Stoll prides herself on her knack for choosing bright colors that compliment each other. “I paint straight out of the tube to obtain the brightest colors possible from pigments,” Stoll noted.
“I am so happy to continue in the art field,” she said. Though, Whitman Stoll admitted her work is often so personal she has a difficult time parting with pieces she’s selling.