Californian Painter Draws Inspiration from Atenas

June 17, 2005

Second in an ongoing serieson Atenas-based artists.WHAT mesmerizes Californianartist Alice Constantineabout the 360-degreeview from her house in thehilly outskirts of Atenas, acoffee town northwest of SanJosé, is the way light constantlychanges the scenery.“I get inspired by theblue-green mountains, thegorgeous sunsets,” says Constantine,57. “When I’mpainting a landscape,” shecontinues, “I try to conveyhow beautiful the world is,particularly how light affectsshapes and colors.”Dedication to aestheticsdominates the artist’s spacioushouse, where she liveswith her husband Jim, anarchitect and designer.Constantine’s oil paintingsharmonize with antiques collected ontravels or at auctions and Chippendale stylefurniture designed by Jim and handcraftedhere. Diana, a yellow Labrador,and Jake, a vivacious street dog that“found us,” as the couple puts it, are partof the family.SENSITIVE to her environment,Constantine produces paintings that reflecther incredible appreciation for life. Sinceshe moved to Costa Rica three years ago,she feels more creative freedom, and herpaintings are brighter. In California, whereher works were exhibited in cooperative artshows, she mainly painted landscapes andstill lifes. But Costa Rica’s relaxed atmospherehas encouraged her to experimentwith her talent.“The colors are so bright, and I feelmy work has improved greatly,” she says.“I never used to paint people, like I donow.”In her market scenes, for instance, shecaptures one moment in time, depictingthe interaction of buyers, vendors andonlookers.“There are so many interesting charactersin Atenas: the man without shoes, thegarlic vendor or the honey seller with hisneatly lined up bottles,” she comments.ATTRACTED by French culture,Constantine went to Paris at the age of21, where she learned about the Frenchimpressionist painters and spent hoursin museums looking at paintings byMonet, Renoir, Pissarro and other 19thcenturymasters.One of the most popular movements inthe history of Western art, impressionismwas characterized by the accurate andobjective recording of visual reality interms of transient effects of light andcolor. Calling themselves independent oropen-air painters, impressionists were drivento break with “official” art, freeingthemselves from the studio tradition tocapture visual impressions onsite, whetherindoors or out in theaters, cafés or theFrench countryside.“They began to paint everyday lifeand were influenced by the advent of photographyand art supplies packed inportable cases, as well as premixed oilpaint in collapsible tin tubes,” Constantineexplains.THIS artist prefers more fluid brushstrokesthan the impressionists used.Constantine doesn’t call herself an impressionist,but she loves the sense of color,soft focus and the way impressionismtransports feelings to her.For three years, she studied compositionand color with Bette Holland andimpressionist techniques with JerrySteiner, both Californian masters. Herfavorite artist is Kevin Macpherson, a popularU.S. oil painter and teacher based inNew Mexico.“Macpherson tells a story with hispaintings,” she says, “and that is exactlywhat I like to do in my market scenes –what is this person talking about, whatdoes this lady have in her bag, why is theother one holding her handsbehind her head?“Painting sharpens mysenses for the beauty of life. Itis who I am, and the more I’maware of it, the more I want toshare it with others throughmy artwork.”Constantine is a foundingmember of an artist’s cooperativecurrently taking shape inAtenas. Her paintings are forsale and can be purchaseddirectly from her. For moreinformation, call 446-3783 ore-mail alicejim@racsa.co.cr.

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