Arnie Casavant has a special gift beyond his ability to draw people to him through lively conversation; he also captures them by capturing light and shadow in oil paint, expressing form through compelling compositions and clear values.
Casavant is not just a natural artist but also a natural teacher — skills that don’t always go hand-in-hand. Maybe it’s the way he laces his words with laughter as he carries the joy and excitement he has for painting to his mentoring of his art students.
He grew up in the blue collar town of Tiverton, Rhode Island. Cassavant jokes about excelling at struggling in every school subject as a kid, and though he enjoyed sketching, there was little encouragement for pursuing a future in the arts in a town built on the mill industry. He attended what is now the Community College of Rhode Island in his early twenties, and it was there that he experienced his “Ah Ha!” moment with art.
“I remember it clearly… I took a drawing class. We had to do a drawing of the negative space, and our hands were the subject. When I did it, the professor came by and he looked at it and said, ‘Have you ever drawn before?’ That encouraging remark sent me on my lifetime journey as a visual artist.”
Casavant continued pursuing art at UMass Dartmouth, where his studies in education and art led to nearly thirty years at the Oliver Ames High School in Easton, Massachusetts, as an art instructor, and ultimately, department head. He taught his skills and passion to his students while finding ways to bring levity and laughter to the classroom. And he still maintains contact with many of his former students and encourages their artistic journeys.
After retiring from the public sector, Casavant sought and received representation on Cape Cod from Gallery 31 Fine Art in Orleans. The gallery embraced his skills, and he also organized and led art workshops and demos as part of the gallery’s community outreach. “I have a gift that I know a little bit about painting. I’m here to give…” shares Casavant. “I thrive on sharing approaches, materials, methods, tips on painting perspective, and in a word — kindness. I feel most at home at the easel and when sharing my passion for art.”
The sentiment is felicitious because while many discoveries as a painter happen in the solitude of “putting in the mileage” at your easel, sharing nuggets of info with others makes connections that are enduring. Casavant’s ability as an artist and his sense of sharing team up for high impact.
His affiliation with Cape Cod through Gallery 31 is also a natural fit. He remarks that painting the “always changing light, weather, moods, and nature of this unique peninsula on Cape Cod Bay draws me back to these shores, again and again….My art is a practice in chasing and capturing light as it dances across the waves, bogs, and vistas, creating beauty while capturing form.” Many of his works are painted on location en plein air as he experiences firsthand these luminous moments of light.
Like most of us who come to the Cape, Casavant also finds the ocean therapeutic: looking out for miles and miles at the shore, listening to the waves, observing the subtle changes in their peaks and valleys, experiencing that sense of peace when all worries seem to leave you as you realize how beautiful nature is, appreciating how the Cape changes yet feels like home as you return year after year for a getaway guaranteed to be soothing to one’s nerves and soul. This rather intangible effect is made a little more tangible by Casavant through his art.
“The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow,” standing 36” tall by 24” wide, captures the majesty of masts of sailboats standing silhouetted against the vermillion skies of sunrise at the harbor; complementary colors yellow and violet add intensity and interest to this still, daybreak scene. It is unique yet universal all at once, like much fine art, and like life.
Another of his paintings, “Beach Impressions,” a 24”-square painting of open dunes at dawn, grew out of the fact that Casavant loves to walk and paint at Nauset Beach in Orleans, feeling the promise of a new morning, the fresh tracks left by 4-wheel vehicles in the sand. Ultimately though, it is the mesmerizing, ever-changing ebb and flow of crashing waves that wins this artist’s heart. “To experience sunrise and sunset at the ocean’s edge, listen to the waves, hear seagulls chirping, and feel the humidity in the morning air… is special and lasting,” he says. “It’s the essence of beauty in the natural world, and I feel joy in capturing it in paint.”
“Breaking Point, at 48” wide by 24” high, depicts such sensorial experiences at Nauset. “Ocean ripples bounce back the subtle sparks of light on the sea at daybreak. I seek to harness such wonder and beauty through art as it is timeless and pure, to be appreciated for generations to come,” Casavant says.
“Many people don’t have something in their lives that kicks the adrenaline into high gear,” he comments, “something they so look forward to doing in the morning, something they feel passionate about, something they feel happy about, something that makes life more meaningful. I’m very fortunate that art brings me so much joy, and I love to share that joy firsthand.”