Forrest Pirovano was first introduced to the architecture and landscape of Cape Cod while he was serving in the Navy. What really drew him in, aside from falling in love with his wife, Shirley, in Falmouth, was the region’s abundance of antique sailboats.
At the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pirovano trained first as an illustrator, and early in his career he often drew and painted steam locomotives. Here on the Cape, his fascination with locomotives morphed into an appreciation for the beauty of another traveling machine: sailboats. “It’s the sailboats here that are just so special,” Pirovano says. “That’s what really hooked me about the Cape.” And whereas the sailboat is often the main subject, he says everything in the background—the harbor, the horizon, other boats, etc.—add depth to each painting.
Describing his style as somewhat impressionistic, Pirovano says he tries to get away with as little detail as possible. “If I’m painting a boat, I want it to look like a boat,” he says. “But I do not focus on the actual detail of the boat. With my paint, I’m trying to use as few strokes as possible. That’s my ultimate goal.”
Pirovano paints primarily in oil, despite being trained in pretty much every other medium. Oil’s vibrant and rich colors pulled him in, and he hasn’t looked back. With oil, he relies on textures and brushstrokes to bring his coastal skies, wave-tossed seas, and flying sails to life.
For years, Pirovano painted scenes of charming Buzzards Bay and the small antique boats that make their home in such picturesque spots as Quissett Harbor in Woods Hole. Recently he has been moving east with his paintings—from Hyannis Port to Brewster to Provincetown—to explore new areas of the Cape.
Pirovano hopes his paintings can evoke fond memories in those who view them. “My hope is for people to see one of my paintings of the Cape and it takes them back to their summer vacation, their old camping ground, their grandfather’s sailboat—some kind of special memory in their life,” Pirovano says. “I generally don’t paint cloudy skies or winter. I want my paintings to remind people of something good in their lives.” – Lillian Lowe