Artist Profile: Lois Castellana

Cape Cod Art  /  ART Annual 2019 / ,

Writer: Rory Marcus

“Beachcomber” • 36” x 24” • Pastel

From the first day she took a class in pastel painting at the library, Lois Castellana was hooked. She was so moved by the intensity of the colors that she was determined to teach herself everything about the medium. She says she had always admired the Old Masters—Sargent, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Vermeer—“but I realized that painting and pastels have a special language and I had to learn it.”

Thus began her creative journey over the past 11 years—reading books about technique, taking classes from pastel artists on the Cape, joining pastel societies, entering exhibitions, and learning by trial and error to create her own style. Today, the vibrancy of the color blue that she is so drawn to shines from her seascapes to add their brilliant light to her garage studio.       

Castellana paints large beachscapes and seascapes, many with solitary boats floating in a calm sea of blues and violets. They convey that sense of peace she feels at so many places on the Cape. She says she enjoys painting on a big canvas. 

“To be able to wander into a painting and engage in an atmospheric perspective is very appealing to me,” Castellana explains. “I strive to create a sense of mindfulness, tranquility, and hopefully a sense of joy.”

“Shell Seeker” • 24” x 18” • Pastel

Castellana doesn’t favor just one spot. “There’s just so much beauty everywhere,” she says. “My husband enjoys taking part in my creative process by finding new places with me. We just get in the car and drive and stop where we feel like it.” Discovering another inspiring view that evokes feelings in her, she’ll snap many photos. “Bringing these photos back to my studio and attempting to translate these feelings onto a canvas—this is why I paint.”

“My projects are always the same—a blank canvas, which makes for a new and engaging project each time,” Castellana adds. “My enthusiasm and drive are what influence and push me to create.”

After sketching the composition, Castellana explains: “I then apply color, and brush an alcohol wash over the entire surface, liquefying the first layer of pastels. This creates a painterly, luminous effect. Once dry, the magic begins, as the underpainting takes hold. My husband calls this ‘The ghost.’ As more color is applied, building on lights and darks, detailed images emerge and the painting takes shape.”

The couple lives in Milford, but they spend time all year-round at their place behind Carmine’s Pizza off Main Street in Chatham. In good weather, Castellana opens her garage door, puts on her music, sets up her easel, and paints in the full light. It can become very busy with so many people passing by on their way to shops and restaurants. But it doesn’t bother her if they stop to watch her paint and want to chat. 

“It’s gratifying when they admire my work,” she says.  “And if someone shows interest in buying a piece, it makes me feel complete.”

“Sea of Blue” • 24” x 36” • Pastel

Lois Castellana exhibits with the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, the Cape Cod Art Center in Barnstable and at the Bistro Restaurant in Chatham.