For pastel painter Michele Poirier-Mozzone, water is the ultimate muse. It is her gateway to endless explorations of the human figure, color, pattern and line. It is also her physical reminder of the passage of time. “I started out trying to capture that moment in time—thinking about how quickly the water changes, light changes and my daughters were changing,” she says. “Now it’s less about my daughters and more about life in general.”
Water came to Poirier-Mozzone’s rescue when, back in 2012, she was stuck in a creative rut. “I had been painting still lifes and portraits, which were fun, but I didn’t know what direction to go in,” she recalls. “One day, my daughter was swimming in the pool. It was beautiful how the water distorted her figure and the ribbons of light on the water.” At the time, the artist had a series of abstract pieces that just weren’t working. “I thought, what if I superimposed the figure over these unsuccessful paintings?” Bingo. Five years later, the mystery of how light reflects and refracts off skin, sky and just about any surface still captivates her imagination. She has been working on the same body of work, entitled “Fractured Light,” ever since.
Poirier-Mozzone uses a GoPro camera to shoot underwater reference photos as her jumping-off point. “In the photos, everything is blue, so with each one, I try to veer off from the plain blue,” she explains. “Sometimes I do a color study, and other times I just go intuitively.”
A native of Taunton, Poirier-Mozzone received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Emmanuel College in Boston and worked in watercolors for many years. About six years ago, an artist friend introduced her to pastels. She now incorporates both media into her pieces, starting with a watercolor wash as an underpainting and then adding pastels. “I love the contrast between the watery watercolor and the velvety pastels on top.”
Poirier-Mozzone lives with her family in Rehoboth but summers in Falmouth, where her husband spent summers as a child. “We have a lot of great memories taking our kids to Old Silver Beach,” she says. “It’s such a special place for us.”
Michele Poirier-Mozzone is represented by Gallery Artrio, 50 Pearl Street, Hyannis; and ArtProv Gallery, 150 Chestnut Street, Providence, Rhode Island. Her work can be seen online at poirier-mozzone.com.
She will be in a two-person show titled “Refraction” with her daughter, Lydia Mozzone, at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth from August 8-27.