5 Minutes With: A Watercolorist
Recently I spoke with Robert Nardolillo, a local watercolorist who loves capturing cities like Hoboken in action. I’ve always wanted to get inside the mind of an artist who is able to harness the energy and ambience of a familiar place. Robert, a doctor by day, was a great candidate because his mind never seems to stop painting.
How did you decide to become an artist?
RN: Like every child, we are all artists in the beginning. I was drawing from a very young age, and I actually wanted to become a cartoonist as a kid.
What is the best part about working as a watercolorist?
RN: It helps me to capture the mood and the atmosphere of a place very rapidly.
Is there anything that you wish you knew before becoming a watercolorist?
RN: I know it is one of the most difficult mediums to work with. Timing is very important, because water dries pretty quickly and you don’t have much of a window to work with certain washes if you’re not quick. So you need to work fast and to work accurately. There is also a lot of pre planning involved, too. For instance, I’ll do charcoal sketches ahead of time, then when I paint I don’t have to think about that as much.
RN: I’m pretty much a street scape painter. I’m from Brooklyn originally, and I just love the hustle and bustle of the city — you feel the energy. Hoboken is just rich in architectural buildings, people, cars, and it’s just what excites me and gets my juices flowing. The city makes me want to paint. When I walk around the city of Hoboken, in my mind, I’m painting. There are a lot of good subjects.
Why do you think watercolor captures the mood of a city so well as opposed to other mediums?
RN: Well, it’s hard to do an oil painting in the middle of a city. With watercolor you can do it more rapidly and move on, whereas oil is more of a studio type of painting.
If you could be anywhere in the world tomorrow with just you and your brush, where would it be?
RN: Tuscany. I don’t know if I would come back (laughs).
What was the best advice you’ve ever gotten as an artist?
RN: Keep it simple. In other words, be childlike when you paint. Children have no rules, no boundaries, so don’t get too sophisticated and intellectual or you can mess things up.
Do you have any current projects that you’re working on?
RN: Yes, I have an exhibit at the Tresorie Gallery in Hoboken, so I’m actually doing a lot of paintings because we’re going to do a show there in a couple of months. It’ll be an exclusive show for myself there on Washington Street, so I’m trying to get fifteen to twenty paintings ready for that.
As an artist, how do you market yourself?
RN: Not very much (laughs). I do show my work in that one gallery in Hoboken, I do local shows and I’ve won numerous awards in my local shows. Mama’s Festival of the Arts is where I first sold a couple of my paintings, and there’s also an art guild locally. I have won local awards, but it’s more word of mouth. People seem to come to me.
Who is your favorite painter of all time?
RN: More contemporary, Andrew Wyeth is probably one of my favorites. As far as the old masters, probably Henri Matisse or Edouard Manet, you know the more impressionistic painters.
Follow Robert's artwork on Facebook: Robert Nardolillo Artwork