Cover artist Susan D’Alessio is one of a rare breed of artists who paints outdoors, creating plein air works that celebrate our local landscape. Her settings are varied, from waterscapes featuring Louse Point to farmlands depicting Sagaponack to neighborhoods showing Georgica. Her points-of-view are also diverse, from panorama perspectives to closer-up scenes. Sometimes D’Alessio includes figures in her paintings; sometimes she doesn’t. Regardless of these variations, however, the works maintain a certain “look” based on composition, place and light quality. A good example is this week’s cover image of the Napeague landscape.
Q: What is it about the Napeague landscape that you’re drawn to?
A: It’s unique because it has wetlands and dunes. It’s also so important that these natural places continue to be there for all of us to enjoy. The setting is similar to paintings of Shinnecock Hills by William Merritt Chase. I want Napeague to be recognizable to people who know the area.
Q: What is it particularly that you like about the scene on the cover?
A: I like the shapes of the natural landscape and the way the browns and sandy vegetation provide a nice contrast to the calm blue pond and the green marshland beyond.
Q: In general, what aspects do you concentrate on in your landscapes?
A: I don’t concentrate on the subject matter but the design elements of the scene, the compositional structure.
Q: I can understand that. Your previous profession focused on design.
A: I was a textile designer for 27 years, doing product development for Liz Claiborne and traveling around the world.
Q: How did you end up here?
A: My grandmother bought property in Hampton Bays in 1956 when I was four. (They had camped in Shinnecock Hills in the 1940s.) And I also visited friends in East Hampton when I was a child.
Q: As an adult, you have become committed to the plein air process and are active with the Plein Air Peconic group and The Peconic Land Trust. How are these two groups related in your life?
A: I enjoy the open fields, rural character of the farms and natural habitats that The Peconic Land Trust helps to preserve. A view of a farm shed from the roads we travel on is always intriguing to my artist’s eye. I like how the farm buildings fit so well into the open landscapes. I am fortunate to have found artists in Plein Air Peconic that share my love of depicting the vanishing landscape. We keep each other motivated, and this helps us be more prolific. We mostly paint together when we are painting a preserved Peconic Land Trust site.
Q: How has your painting changed over the years?
A: My skies have become more developed and capture the weather conditions and seasonal changes. There are also less small details in my work now.
Q: What do you see in your future?
A: I get a joy going out in nature and painting. I hope to do that forever.
Susan D’Alessio may be contacted through her website: susandalessio.com.