Featured artist Fred Calleri spoke with The Eisenhauer Gallery about his paintings, his style, and the inspiration for his work. His popular paintings resonate well with New Englanders' due to the fun and lively characters he portrays usually around coastal environments. Even more so, Calleri's laid-back and warm persona really lives through his work, as his paintings are as fun to look at as he is to speak with. Q:You began working in the marketing world and then transitioned to becoming a full-time artist. Marketing and graphic design, while you are able to obviously create great images and symbols, the work created is contained to a scale that must be verified and approved by others. How has working as your own boss, working as a true artist changed your views and style?
Fred Calleri: My motivation was greatly increased by the challenge of being a full time artist. My style emerges on it’s own, however;I can say working as a graphic designer helped understand working together as Gallery and Artist to create the best and most effective work. Q:Your paintings go from fun, almost innocent simple characters like within “This is Wow”, to a sophisticated look with “Juliet.”How would you describe your style of work? What are you trying to capture or illustrate through your paintings? Fred Calleri: My style has really been shaped by relentlessly learning from other artists. It varies from piece to piece depending on what I’m trying to accomplish. One day I’m influenced by Sargent or Vermeer, and the next by Norman Rockwell or N.C. Wyeth. The lessons the Master painters and Illustrators teach me are endless. Q: Most of the characters in your paintings have red noses, why?
Fred Calleri: The places on the face where the bone meets skin is usually the most colorful. I’m trying ease up on this a bit because sometimes I get carried away. My figure’s ears are really red too. I had someone send me a message on Facebook from Russia. They asked why all of my characters look drunk. Q: Most of the characters also seem to be similar in look and depiction, are they based on anyone or anything in particular? Fred Calleri: Originally, in my older work, I really tried hard to distort the figure and see where it took me. As I watch the work progress it seems I’m meandering my way back to a more representational feel. Thus… many of the figures start to arrive by themselves as I work. Q: Your paintings on The Eisenhauer Gallery’s website have for the most part, all been sold. Compared to other artists, your work seems to very popular and particularly sought after. What do you think about your association with The Eisenhauer Gallery and do you know their supporters and fans to be more interested in your work than other galleries? Fred Calleri: I wouldn’t say mine is more popular, as I believe Elizabeth, and the folks at Eisenhauer Gallery really do a tremendous job as a gallery for all of their artists. Elizabeth has always given me great suggestions and challenges which I relish. Eisenhauer has opened my eyes to some wonderful collectors, and I am just grateful for the opportunity. Q: Do you have a special relationship here? Fred Calleri: Eisenhauer was one of my first galleries! I was born on the east coast and have visited the islands several times.
I would say the Vineyard has a special relationship with everyone. The people are tremendous. Q: Of all your paintings with The Eisenhauer Gallery, which is your personal favorite? If you don’t have one, what do all of your paintings as a collection mean to you? Fred Calleri: I hate to sound cliche’, but really when I look at the work over time, the journey is the true meaning. I have favorite parts of paintings, but not necessarily a favorite piece. Something as simple as how I approached painting water or skin tones two years ago, as opposed to now. That's the journey. Q: How do you stay connected with your fans? Fred Calleri: When I am fortunate enough to get into national publications, or through Facebook. People from all over the world find me, that's for sure. I wouldn’t call them fans, as much as kind people interested in art. It’s wonderful to communicate with others around the globe. Q: What do you feel is the most important aspect of your relationship with them? Fred Calleri: If I could write a quick note to N.C. Wyeth, and he replied minutes later? I would be awestruck. Just to be able to speak with, and learn from others is amazing. Many times …I'm the fan of someone else.
Q: You have said that you take each new painting as a lesson, can you please explain what this means and how it benefits the viewer? Fred Calleri: I will do an entire painting with one particular challenge to myself… a “night sky” for example. I’ll make that my lesson, and the resulting story is just what comes from it. I will look at other artist’s night skies, and see what can be mined from their work. Q: What’s next for your collection? Fred Calleri: I think I’m really going to eventually delve into representational figurative work, and some plein Air landscapes. There’s many more “lessons” coming for Eisenhauer gallery to share. Thank you to them.