The desire to paint was always there, even during his career as an engineer in high-tech plastics molding. After work, Larry Folding would come home and paint. He even remembers the exact day he decided to dedicate real time and energy to his art. He was a member of Whitinsville Golf Club at the time, and all it took was a bad game of golf.
“I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? This isn’t fun. I should be doing something I like,’” he explains. So he exchanged his driver and putter for a painter’s palette and some brushes.
He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, Worcester Art Museum, Fitchburg Art Museum, and many workshops in Maine (lately he’s attended workshops in Europe). In 1974 he sold his first painting, a picture of a marsh with geese. A friend bought it. He has always worked in watercolor, and was never interested in any of the other mediums. He claims that watercolors require more than artistic ability, that there are lots of variables to the medium. Painting with watercolors requires more thinking up front, he says. The paint runs, and it dries quickly; some would consider that a benefit over oils, but it also means the artist has to think and react fast to how the painting is evolving and what the painting is uncovering. He has always liked those challenges that watercolor still presents every time he paints.
Folding enjoys plein air painting, painting very wet on rough 140-pound Arches paper. In a scene he looks for light and shadow; on cloudy or even rainy days there is plenty of light and color for him to work with. He might take a few photographs first, or make a value sketch or change the composition. Sometimes, he says, painting is the quickest part of the process. From his years of experience painting, he has learned to put drama in shadows and add highlights, all in order to make the viewer look where he wants them to look.
Folding’s paintings of Cape Cod are composed of traditional Cape Cod motifs: dune shacks in the Provincelands, lobster buoys, fishing boats, and marshes. His compositions are tightly contained within the border of the canvas, with the foreground, middle ground and background clearly delineated. Strong use of line keeps the viewer’s eyes within the picture. The eye is led in and around and back into the main focus of the painting.
His color palette is wide-ranging, and his control of the medium captures the lighting and therefore the mood of the scene—sometimes somber, sometimes quite bright.
“Painting is a passion, and sometimes living gets in the way. It’s all I want to do, and I’m never satisfied,” Folding says.