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Painter Michael Dean: From North End to Italy

Sunrise Over Santa Maria della Salute - Michael Dean

As an oil painter and watercolorist living in the North End of Boston, Michael Dean was bound to fall in love with Italy. “I love “The Neighborhood”, with its old world feel,” he says. “It really puts me in mind of Italy.”

Growing up between Rockport and Brookline, Dean was surrounded by art.

“We always had artists living in the small upstairs apartment [in Rockport], and so the smell of linseed oil and turpentine were ever-present. I remember the painters going in and out with their recent works, down to Main Street and Bearskin Neck, where all the galleries were and still are. Our house was also the subject of many paintings. On any given day, I could look up from playing in the driveway to see an artists’ easel set up across the street to capture the odd angles of our big white house and the huge old Elm tree out front. It was certainly an accepted thing in the family, who all had a background in art (including my mother’s father, who had already passed before I could develop any memories of him either), to take a strong interest in painting or some other form of artistic self-expression. In fact, it was taken for granted.”

Dean admits that some of the best places he has visited were in Italy, where he also took the time to paint. He has spent many weeks in Italy – in Rome, Florence, Tuscany and Sicily – and then back to the North End. All these places have served as source material for his paintings in oil, while still life setups and vacations in Maine inspire his watercolors.

“I mostly paint pictures of my North End neighborhood in Boston where I’ve lived with my fiancee, Tina, for the past ten years, and of our trips to Italy and Sicily, which I count among my best cultural experiences (pictures of Dean’s trips can be viewed on his Facebook page).

Abandoned Palazzo Balcony in Sicily - Michael Dean

“I’m doing more figural and portrait work now, since I have a real love and appreciation for the beauty of the human form, as well as for the difficulty of depicting it. I’ve done lots of other paintings as well, like still lifes and even some pet portraits, all of which I’ve enjoyed doing, and which I invite you to look over and read about through my Flickr.

“I also encourage anyone to try their hand at doing oil painting or watercolor – or even just to pick up a pencil and draw – since I know that with a little practice and encouragement it can be one of the most rewarding pastimes a person can pursue.”

Walking the Back Streets in the Afternoon - Rome (Michael Dean)

“I do what I can to create something that the viewer will enjoy looking at for a long time. That’s why I think I’m drawn to things that have stood the test of time: old or abandoned buildings, urban landscapes, the human figure, and lately, boats and water scenes.” He reasons that anything is paintable, as long as you look for the abstract shapes of light and shadow that give all objects their 3-D form and beauty. “I also love the “lines” of objects – the element that gives them their 2-D shape. That’s why I go to the Museum of Fine Arts every Wednesday night to draw live models – the most challenging objects – to capture the gestures in their poses using line and then to give the shape form with shadow, as well as to sharpen my observational eye.”

Dean feels that coming from a long line of artists and creative people has steered him onto this path of self-expression through painting. “I enjoy singing, song-writing and playing musical instruments as well, but painting seems to be the thing I want to pursue for the rest of my life; to get good enough at that I can really say what I want with the medium.”

For more about Michael Dean and to view his art, visit the artist’s Facebook page or Flickr.

Nona Leaning Out Over the Gate - Sicily (Michael Dean)

About Nicola Orichuia

Nicola is an Italian journalist and media enthusiast living in the United States. He keeps an eye on the Italian-American communities across the country and is always looking for positive stories to highlight.

One comment

  1. Foto impressionistiche, tanto vere nell’affaccio della vecchietta per le strade tra moto e palloni di bambini.