M Eileen LaGrotta – MELstlART.com

Like many people, back in the day, my first name is “Mary”. However, there were already so many Marys in our family that I went by my middle name.

I have always been able to draw. In elementary school, teachers would encourage me by asking me to design school flyers and bulletin boards, which, was just the beginning!

Although I have always been somewhat of an artist, it wasn’t always my occupation. My first job was a swim instructor/lifeguard. I was also a Sunday morning cook for our parish priests. I’ve done other work as a retail salesperson, receptionist, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, and city clerk as well as airline ground crew member and desk agent.

At different times in my life I worked as a commercial artist. I became a certified Bob Ross oil painting instructor, (k-8) art teacher and a teachers’ assistant. Observing children in school, I became a special needs advocate. Now at age 65, I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow-up… a watercolorist.

My art portfolio is very broad. Over the years, employers or people have asked me to create things that I had no idea at first how to accomplish. From 55-gallon drums painted and used as barstools, to painting a logo on the canvas of a covered wagon, to oil paintings for themed suites in a hotel, to a 386’ mural in a middle school cafeteria as well as many commercial art pieces such as menus, table tents, signs, brochures, etc. I enjoy all kinds of art and crafting but my favorite medium is watercolor.

Due to a health issue in 2006, I had to stop working and painting. For over 15 years I wasn’t able to do too much. In 2021, with a medication change, I began to “live” again… which also meant drawing and painting!

I began painting for enjoyment. I paint watercolors from photos, usually taken by family or friends. I paint because I like the subject not because someone asked me to do it. I either paint the picture as I see it or simply use it as a starting point.

I have been painting watercolors for over 30 years and still consider myself to be a student. Especially with my 15-year absence, there are new products and materials that make learning very fun! Generally, watercolor is a very loose and somewhat transparent medium, however, my personal style is more controlled. Try as I might to “let it flow”… I always end up back in control! At this time in my life I have just come to accept that this is my personal style.