Thomas J. Ciarniello
Thomas J. Ciarniello
Picasso said, “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” For many years,
the dust of everyday life smothered my soul. I graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh
in the mid 70's with every intention to have a life as an artist. However, the dust began to settle on my plans as one detour lead to another. I found myself to be what I call the accidental businessman – the successful accidental businessman. For nearly thirty years, I was a businessman. During those years, I never completely let go of my art. In my house, I had a studio. I always had an easel waiting for paint. I took an art class here and there, but my life was running my business. During that time, I went on a retreat where I was asked to write my dreams & goals. Without hesitation, I wrote: art, cooking and gardening. The three became my mantra as I planned a way to exit my business. Finally, at the age of 58, I was free to turn my dreams into a goal. I started to turn my business over to my son. Then, I moved from Ohio to Washington, DC. The dust was beginning to dissipate.
I dared to take classes at Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia. There I learned from Nelson Shanks, “Skill liberates the artist to create - the lack of it paralyzes.” The classes instructing me and, at times, challenged my self-confidence. However, the brilliance of the instructors kept me focused on skill, which diminished my insecurities about delving into my art late in life. I continued my education at The Art League of Alexandria where I studied under the tutelage of Dani Dawson. In three years, she has taught me what would have taken ten years of study. Her mastery and focus – her example of the artistic life – took away whatever dust remained. I still rely on her tutelage and friendship to navigate my artistic life.
Now, I am an artist, an artist who also loves to cook and garden. It is no mistake that I built my studio to overlook my magnificent garden and connect to my kitchen. I have a postcard of Picasso in my studio to remind me the only dust in my life is occasionally on my furniture. My art is one of the loves of my life. Each piece honors my journey.
My brother lives in Arizona. I often tease him about his desert landscape; he reminds me of Virginia’s humidity. As proof of both the desert’s beauty and his green Arizona thumb, he sent me photos of the cacti he is growing in his yard. We share a love for orange. The photo of his beautiful cactus, sprouting orange blooms, found a place on my canvas, much to his delight and mine.
My sister, a poet, wrote a poem - “Peonies” -in honor of my beloved Aunt. She compared my aging aunt to peonies ~ still having bloom but on legs like thin stems, about to give way. While I read her poem, I looked at the peonies in my yard knowing they, too, are waning. I rushed to paint them honoring their lovely blooms, my sister’s poem, and my beloved aunt.
My studio faces my garden. Daily when I take a break from painting, put my brush down, my garden is always there to relax and inspire me. One day while thinking of an idea for my next painting, again my gaze went to my garden giving me not only peace but the subject of this painting. Welcome to my garden.
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Arlington, Virginia 22207, United States