Valerie Leri’s home studio glows with beams of sunlight streaming in from several windows. The sun’s warming effect, however, is not the only brightness illuminating the residence: the artist’s many paintings adorning the walls—and her own cheerful positive attitude—rival the sun’s effects. The goal this artist sets for each painting is to capture and communicate the positive and upbeat emotions of her subjects.

“My art is almost exclusively uplifting,” Valerie says, scanning the paintings in her studio. “That’s such a strong drive in me, in my personal life, being positive. I want to see the best in people, and I want my paintings to be the same way.”

As She Sees It

Originally from Belmont, Valerie studied fine art at UMASS Amherst, graduating in 1982. She moved to Cape Cod in 2004 to be closer to her father, Robert, and to be surrounded by the natural beauty of the peninsula. “I love the Cape,” she says. “It just suits what I do so well and there’s so much to offer. It’s very nurturing and all the beautiful places here serve to inspire me.”

Illuminated by a palette of bright reds, oranges, and yellows, Morning in Tuscany, one of Valerie’s paintings, stands out in her gallery—quite an accomplishment since nearly every square inch of space is covered by her canvases. Resting above the fireplace, the painting of Tuscany brings back special memories for the artist.

As She Sees It

“I took a bike trip in Europe,”  the artist says of the painting. “See that? That’s Tuscany. Did it look exactly like that at the time? No, but that’s kind of the way I felt about it.”

That distinct attitude sums up the painter’s art perfectly. Viewing her paintings, one doesn’t necessarily get a clear sense of the exact scene or location she experienced, but rather, the artist’s feeling, or sense of each place. Working more on emotion rather than on technique, a strong element in her work is light—both spiritual and physical. Using the light as inspiration combined with dramatic brushstrokes, she captures spontaneity and movement through a rhythmic collaboration of colors and shapes.