I have known and admired the paintings of Louis Russomanno of Hamilton for years. We both are represented by The Artful Deposit Gallery in Bordentown, and I see him frequently. Russomanno is a self-trained artist. That almost sounds like anyone can do what he does. Trust me, anyone cannot. Russomanno has one of the finest “eyes” for making art. The clarity with which he sees the objects and models is amazing. He then draws and paints what he sees so well. He has the “eye.” His work is quite well received and well collected.
What are you communicating with your art?
I am considered a Realist and paint things which appeal to me emotionally. Whether I paint still lifes, figures or scenes, I want the image to have the feeling of life. I want the viewer to see the life, to feel the life in the painting.
What media do you use, and why?
I use oil paint on canvas or panel. Lately, I am painting larger and find using oil paint works best for blending dark to light. It also works well when I apply the paint with a palette knife.
Who were you influenced by?
Old Masters influenced my work in a big way. I love Tintoretto for his color and quick working, Rubens for the figures and Rembrandt for the importance of light and shadows. In modern times, I admire Lucien Freud.
Do you work on your art every day?
I do work every day. I get up early and run five miles in Veterans Park near my house. Then I will paint until noon, have a little lunch, then paint more in the afternoon. All told, I paint 6-7 hours a day.
How long do you feel it took you to find your own voice?
My own voice is sometimes changing. If I sit and paint, the work is more refined. If I stand, the work is a lot looser. I am told my work is easily recognizable.
Locally, where do you like to eat and hang out?
My family is of Italian heritage, so we eat. My house is always full of friends and family. We have coffee on for you, the big Sunday dinner and, of course, my wife is an excellent cook. Our family members also own Jojo’s Tavern in Mercerville, so we eat there frequently.
What fight/struggle do you have regarding your art?
The struggle I have is my studio could be bigger. Actually it’s plenty big; it is just not tall enough. I have great light, but I need a 12-foot ceiling for the size paintings I am doing.
What one attribute should all artists have?
Artists should have a relentless desire to be an artist. Even if I won the lottery I would still paint and make art. I paint what I am obsessed with and wish to share it. I am true to my ideas.
What is most fun about being an artist?
I would not call it fun, as it is work. But one fun part is when a painting is collected. It is fun to know someone liked the piece as much as I did.
What is on the horizon?
I have several commissions that I must complete. Commissions are challenging because sometimes the collector wishes to have input on the piece itself. Of course, it usually turns out the way I wished it would. Besides that, I just keep painting the best I can.
Thomas Kelly is a Hamilton-based artist and member of the Hamilton Arts Council. His work can be found at thomaskellyart.com.