Gazing upon Linda Sperruzzi’s paintings, one feels a sense of tranquility. The small brush strokes of unblended color work in unison to evoke reflections on the surface of water. Structures, watercraft and more populate the canvas, arranged in a way that communicates harmony even as it introduces contrast.
“I always tend to paint landscape subject matter that includes some sort of architectural feature,” Sperruzzi said. “The way different planes of color work against each other on their straight edges intrigues me, especially as it contradicts the softness of nature and water. Bridges, boats and building structures are included in most of my pieces. Occasionally, I include the human form or wildlife, depending on the composition."
Sperruzzi calls her style “Modern Impressionism,” which applies the Impressionist tradition to contemporary subjects and adds a touch of the Abstract.
And, while her style began to take form when she was living in New York, it blossomed with a change in subject matter after she moved to the Nation’s Oldest City nearly three years ago. A portrait artist for 25 years, she turned to landscapes.
“Once I got to St. Augustine, I felt very inspired by my surroundings,” she said.
Sperruzzi has since found a home for her work at the Grand Bohemian Gallery in St. Augustine and also exhibits in other states.
In addition, her work will be on display through July 17 at the Lightner Museum as part of its Lightner Local series, presented by the Benjamin and Jean Troemel Arts Foundation.
A new subject
Sperruzzi credits her mother, a watercolor impressionist, with nurturing her interest in painting. She studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design but interrupted her studies to pursue teaching — something she later decided was not for her.
She began to do commission work, including murals, while living on Long Island. Eventually, she opened a teaching studio in Wading River, New York, and ran it for more than nine years.
“Everything was going smoothly until the pandemic,” she said.
Like other businesses, her studio was forced to close in the face of COVID-19.
“That kind of prompted us to finally pursue our lives in Florida,” Sperruzzi said.
The first painting she did after her arrival was of the Bridge of Lions. The subject matter, combined with her evolving style, “just felt right,” she said.
A matter of technique
Sperruzzi said she usually paints about four or five hours a day and completes most paintings in about a week.
Though trained in all mediums, she chooses to work exclusively in acrylics. She and her husband visit downtown St. Augustine about once a week, and she takes photos of the various sights from different angles to use as a reference later.
Using the photos as guides, she completes pencil sketches before starting on her paintings. Then, she sketches in thin burnt sienna on the canvas itself. This is followed by the paint with each color applied in two or three coats.
“My focus when I paint, it’s all about layout of color,” she said. “I mix and combine my own colors and label them; each one has a name. … I’ll lay out the bottles I want to work with, and I just keep placing the colors in little strokes, one at a time, and just play around with what works together to get my view across.”
One thing that is very important to her is her faith, and she views her painting as a form of worship. Hidden in many of her works are crosses. And she includes a verse on the back of each painting.
“Each painting is dedicated to a different theme or verse surrounding my faith and my honor to God,” Sperruzzi said. “I do believe that any glory and honor does belong to Him.”
“Linda Sperruzzi: Colors of St. Augustine” opens at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1, at the Lightner Museum, 75 King St., St. Augustine. It consists of 18 new works, which will be featured concurrently in a virtual exhibition through the Grand Bohemian Gallery. Paintings are available for purchase at the gallery, located at 49 King St., St. Augustine. Inquire by calling 904-829-6880.
Admission to the opening is free.
Also, during the opening, Sperruzzi will be selling her children’s book, “Allie the Artist.”
To learn more, go to lightnermuseum.org/event/colorsofstaugustine.
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