Look outside any Cape Cod window and try to sort the shades of green, brown, gold, and blue. The colors are uncountable and the hues almost impossible to replicate. But Tim Struna has an extraordinary knack for homing in on the nuances of the Cape’s natural world. His style captures this realism with precise abstract details and reveals the truth about nature—not in a photographic way, but the truth that lies in impressions.
“I’m a very detailed person,” says Struna, a Brewster painter and printmaker. “I try to put enough abstract detail that if you hone in, you’ll see the manipulation of color. That’s the fun part of my painting, the tones of color.”
Struna started painting as a kid in Cleveland, taking a bus to the Cleveland Museum of Art for lessons. Now it has evolved into a passion of more than 50 years. A signature member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, Struna uses watercolor and acrylic to paint his surroundings, turning out approximately 20 paintings a year. He is also a printmaker, creating hand-colored pieces from copper plate engravings.
Struna’s series “One Square Foot” attests to nature’s infinite colors, textures, and shapes. A painting in the series, One Square Foot of P-town Harbor, is an array of shells on beach sand, wildly varied in color and form, but elegantly composed, as only nature can master. This work, like his others, is based on watching life. “I get my inspiration in everyday things,” Struna says, “whether I’m chopping firewood, walking the beach, or cutting grass.”
He walks the beach almost daily. “I look down at the sand and at the horizon,” he says. “At low tide when the wrack line appears, it leaves stuff. I see shells, beach glass, and beautiful patterns.” Cape architecture, particularly his 1880 home, also inspires him, especially places “where nature takes back man-made structures.”
It takes a deep, long look to really see the range of colors imbedded in Struna’s work. “My palette always looks like a mess,” he says with a laugh. “But it’s all these colors I use to create my own signature colors.” While the technique is very precise, the colors are welcoming and warm. “I keep pretty much the same colors, an earthy palette,” Struna adds. “My model is nature.”