Communique: Artist Anne Trombetta Moves From Collage To Oil

Sep 22, 2017

Work by artists Mary Zio and Anne Trombetta hangs in WHQR's MC Erny Gallery throught October 27. Listen to Anne Trombetta talk about her work above, and see our extended conversation below.

Gina: Anne, tell me about your inspiration to begin painting.

Anne: I retired. I was a teacher for quite a few years in New Jersey and when I ended that chapter in my life, I moved here to North Carolina. It's the first time I've ever lived near the beach. I spent the first few months doing crossword puzzles and things like that. And then I took a class at the Cameron Museum with Kyra Van Sickle and it just went from there. I've taken workshops all over. I've been to New York, to Florida. I've taken classes wherever I can. I have the time now, so I paint every day, and I am really enjoying it. I feel like I'm getting better. I can see the improvement and I really enjoy it. I used to wonder how someone could practice the piano for six or eight hours a day. To me, that would be torture. Because I did take piano lessons and didn't really do well. Now I can paint six or eight hours a day.

Gina: So you can understand how you can get lost?

Anne: Oh yeah. In fact, sometimes I have to stop. Because my studio is in my house, and my husband's in my house, and I don't want to ignore him completely.

Gina: One of the things that is in your work is you're back painting with black.

Anne: Yes. I call this blackboard Series. I started that maybe six months ago. I would take the entire canvas and paint black- flat black- and then paint over it with the color with oils. I found it really liberating because the black automatically changes the style. It's not like I even have to work at it. It just adds a whole new element. I let little tiny pieces of black show in between the bits of color and it has a dynamic look to it. I really like it and I'm continuing. In fact, I've tried one painting in this show where I painted the whole background red, but I think I do prefer the black.

Normally, if I were preparing for a show, I would have put all the Blackboard Series in. But I applied to be in the show in July and then I heard a couple weeks later, Yes we have a spot for you, and the spot was in September. So all of a sudden it was a mad rush to get some quality work for the show. Of course I have included some other work that I've done that is also impressionistic but it's not necessarily this blackboard style.

Gina: And also I noticed one collage.

Anne: Yes. Well, I started in collage. Collage I've always been comfortable with. When I was an art teacher in public school it was my favorite thing to do with kids. It's very liberating because you're not trying for perfect realism. It forces you to be more creative and give up on perfection. That's where my comfort level was- in collage, because I couldn't get the hang of paint and color. I couldn't put them together. But once I started taking classes, suddenly things started to click. So I do some collage, but this is my oil painting stage of life.

Gina: Your paintings are more realistic.

Anne: Well, the people are realistic. But it's not like photo realism in any way. But it's real scenes. Many of the paintings, I think you could stand in front of them and you could tell yourself a story about them, Oh, here's two girls on the beach, it's really rocky, the water is kind of turbulent, they're watching their step so they don't cut their feet. Many of them you can stand in front and just sort of explore.

"Watch Your Step" by Anne Trombette
Credit WHQR/LW

Gina: And I notice a lot of work is outdoor scenes and growing things, like plants and vegetables.

Anne:  Yes, it is all outdoors. Now, I do still lifes also, but I wanted my theme for this show to be color and outdoors. And this Wilmington area- not only do we have the ocean, but the gardens here, the landscaping- it's just incredible. Those trees in Airlie gardens, and the Spanish moss. It's like a smorgasbord to paint. It really is and it's all new to me because I'm from New York State.

Gina: You are doing this exhibit with Mary Zio.

Anne: Yes. Mary is also from New York State. Right. It's not that we knew each other before, but we are both from upstate New York. She's from Syracuse. I'm originally from Albany and we both went to SUNY colleges- State University of New York. She went to school in Purchase. I went to school in Cortland. Our styles are completely different. She is into abstract, nonobjective. She paints really large as opposed to me. I tend to paint small to medium. She paints medium to very large. She has one piece out there called "Sky". You can just stand in front of it and kind of get lost in the clouds. I would still call it abstract, but the clouds are really sort of mesmerizing.

Gina: She's using acrylic?

"Sky" by Mary Zio
Credit WHQR/LW

Anne: Yes, she's using acrylic.

Gina: When I first walked into the gallery, I really noticed the color. All of us have. It's so invigorating.

Anne: We decided on the name Array of Color. We went back and forth trying to come up with the name. And that, that one was perfect for both of us. I think when you walk in, that's the thing that's going to strike you. Even though it's two completely different types of work, the color really is a blast.

Gina: I imagine you at your easel and Mary at her easel and I just imagine very different things going on.

Anne: Well, I have to work towards loosening up. I find the longer I paint, the looser I get. I can tell by how I hold a paintbrush. When I'm holding the paint brush by the end and I have a lot of space between me and the canvas and it feels almost musical like you're directing an orchestra, then then I know I'm in that zone. Sometimes it takes a few hours during any given day to get into that zone, but that's when I'm happiest with the outcome.

Gina: Anything else you’d like us to know?

Anne: The Cameron Museum has been a great discovery. Teachers like Kyra Vansickle and Joanne Geisel, Betty Brown- there's so much local talent. This is really a town where people share. It's been really welcoming as an artist, and really encouraging. That's a nice discovery about the Wilmington area.