Walking up Thomas Street from North Main, I noticed that the front door of The Providence Art Club’s Deacon Taylor House was ajar, a bright “Open” flag waving gently at its side to call curious passersby in. Once inside the yellow colonial, I spotted Sandra DeSano Pezzullo standing at an easel, spreading paint from a brush onto an oversized canvas.
After greeting me warmly and offering me something to drink, Sandra turns back to the landscape. “This is the part of the painting that’s the hardest,” she says. “It’s almost done but not quite. It still needs something.” Deftly applying more layers of paint, she steps back to examine the piece. “I like the way this is changing,” she says. “Sometimes you look more than you paint.”
The studio is warm and inviting, with various paintings displayed about the room. They’re all for sale, except for the ones on easels – works in progress – and the stunning rendition of Walker Farm for which she won first place in a big national contest. The regal purples contrast with vivid lime greens, a pastoral feast for the eyes. It won in the oil category at The National Show at Cape Cod Art Association.
In a huge framed piece that’s hung on one wall, I notice a small black dog painted onto a wooded path. “That’s my dog, Madison!” Sandra says excitedly. “This path is in DeSano Woods. It was my family’s property before they donated it to the town of Barrington.” The artist’s love for all nature is displayed in her various landscapes. Whenever she hikes or skis, she always stops to take photos so she can later paint the scenery.
“I just love oil,” she says, spreading paint once again with her brush. “It’s all I’ve ever used really. Well, I dabbled in watercolors, but oncewas enough!” After attending a certificate program in decorative art at RISD, Sandra began work painting furniture and murals. “I enjoyed it but it didn’t have the freedom that this does. Plus, I got tired of carrying ladders and paint into people’s houses,” she says with a laugh.
She returned to the canvas and never looked back, moving into her current space in 2006. “Most of my real learning has been done here at The Art Club,” she says. “The people who teach here are great and I pick up little bits and pieces here and there. I did that especially when my children were growing up – I’d get in whatever I could whenever I could.”
These days Sandra comes into her studio every day to paint. Her hours are by appointment or by chance. “I love this studio and I love the East Side,” she says passionately. “I love when people see the open door and just wander in off the street. There’s such a great community of artists here too – I’ll run across the hall and drag Joan [McConaghy] in to ask, ‘What do you think of this?’”
To get a look at Sandra’s magnificent landscapes, simply pop in on a nice day, give her a call or catch her on a Gallery Night – she’s one of the participating artists. Currently, she and Joan are preparing for an exhibition in the Art Club’s Maxwell Mays Gallery that will begin with an opening reception from 2-4pm on June 30. Come out to see two of the East Side’s best.