Casavant’s Seasonal Expressions
by Taryn Plumb
For Arnie Casavant, it’s not the subject itself that entices — but the light hitting it, giving it life, shadow, color, dimension, personality.
“It’s the time of day that it’s painted,” said the Quincy artist. “I have absolutely no interest in painting from 10 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. It’s the least inspiring time. The colors just aren’t there for me. The sunlight in the morning and the evening provides me with a dramatic effect on a subject.”.
“I want people to notice the atmosphere, the color,” said Casavant, who retired in 2005 from his 27-year career as an art teacher at Oliver Ames High School in Easton. In his ongoing study of light — much of which he does plein air — Casavant creates an unmistakable sense of movement.
“Boston Public Garden,” for instance, depicts a familiar scene: The bridge over the lagoon, portions of the business district flanking the background. However, Casavant’s unique perspective creates a sense of movement, an impression of freshly falling snow. Meanwhile, in “Country Road,” his airy brush strokes allow viewers to feel a summer breeze nudging the field grass and the tree branches.
As he described it, he was “always attracted to light, always aware of light.” As a kid, he recalled noticing the rays of light streaming into his family’s apartment in a Fall River triple-decker; later, after graduating from high school, he had that same awareness when he was working in the city’s mills. Even today, he enjoys the sunset every night — and the first thing he does when he takes his dog out for a walk every morning is look up at the sky to see where the sun is, and what colors are in play.
Meanwhile, he is also drawn to the subjects that often blur into the background of everyday life. For instance, tankers carrying natural gas and rock salt into Boston Harbor, or the rusting and gritty overpasses of the highway systems running in and around Boston. “I found the beauty in the urbanscape,” said Casavant. “As artists, at least representational artists, we look for the beauty in things.”