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Artist Lynn Benevento on Art and Her Creative Process

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By Sarah Cramer

Lynn BeneventoAdirondack artist Lynn Benevento’s work has won numerous awards in the region and has hung in the State Museum and The Reagan Presidential Library. She’s participated in Saratoga’s “Art in the Park” and has been featured in Saratoga Living magazine. Lynn owns a gallery in Lake Luzerne that exclusively showcases her original work. I recently spoke with Lynn, and she provided me with some insight into her creative process, her strong family values and her love of hot air balloons.

The Free George: Can you tell me a little about your artistic background and beginnings?
Lynn Benevento:
Basically, I always liked to doodle and things like that but I was in a regent’s course in high school so I didn’t have time to take art classes. After my children were born, the oldest was really into dinosaurs so I decided to try to paint one. It actually looked like it was supposed to! So I thought that was really cool. After that I just liked to paint all the time—it’s hard to find models for dinosaurs, but other than that I painted things I know, like flowers.

TFG: Are you originally from Lake Luzerne?
LB:
All my ancestors were from Hadley Hill, and I grew up in Corinth. My husband was from Brooklyn, but he lived in Lake Luzerne, and we actually met at the Waterhouse Restaurant here. And since that’s where he lived, that’s where I went. I do love Lake Luzerne; it’s one of the prettiest towns around.

TFG: In your work, what’s your main medium?
LB:
Acrylic on canvas. In college I took a watercolor course, but I didn’t really paint what you’re “supposed to” with watercolors. And my husband bought me some pastels once that I tried but they were kind of… hmmmm… so I just use acrylics.

TFG: Well I guess there’s something to be said for sticking with what you know. What inspires you to create?
LB:
I guess something will just hit me, and I know that I need to paint it. I’ll see something, like a scene or a special flower, and I just need to do it. I make lists of them. I have a list about a mile long, and I’ll never get to do them all. There are just so many great things around.

Hot air balloons, Lynn BeneventoTFG: Do you have any favorites, in terms of subjects, to paint?
LB:
I have several favorites. I love hot air balloons, and the [Adirondack Balloon] Festival is coming up. My husband and I started a tent there about fifteen years ago and we’re always there all weekend. This year it’s from the 23rd to the 26th of September. We have a festival tent with several artists there. This year there will be about six. We display our artwork—everybody’s painted balloons—and it’s for sale. It’s really neat to be part of the festival, to be there and get to know the balloonists. I’ve just always loved anything that flies; I love to be up in the air or on mountaintops. When my son was being born I was at Glens Falls Hospital and my husband looked out the window and said ‘There are balloons out there.’ At that point I was in labor and was like, ‘I don’t care!’ [laughs] But after he was born I did care and soon after that we started going to the festival each year. And the balloons are so great to paint, you know with all the colors.

TFG: That’s really funny [laughs]. In regards to where you like to work best, do you have a preferred environment?
LB:
I work on a drawing table. My studio is fairly small and it’s full of printers and computers and piles of paper. Sometimes I just move my table into my living room for more space because I do most of my work at home. My preferred environment would be a nice big open studio with lots of light coming in the window. Sometimes I do work at my gallery but that’s hard because there’s so much going on here with people coming and going.

TFG: Do you ever paint outside?
LB:
No, I don’t. It takes so much time to complete a picture that the sunlight changes and the paints dry out and that sort of thing. So I take photographs and work from them. But I have to take my own photographs; I have to have been there and seen the thing—felt the wind in my hair or smelled the flower—so that I have a feel for it.

TFG: I remember in reading your website that some of your artwork has ended up in Japan. How did that happen?
LB:
Mostly because of the sister city exchange with the balloon festival. Many years ago, probably 20, some people here and Rocky Aoki, from the Benihana Corporation, decided that there should be a sister city program because there’s a city, Saga, Japan, that also has a balloon festival. So it started with Glens Falls and expanded to the surrounding areas. They started exchanging people back and forth—first balloonists went and then the program moved into the schools—our son was actually able to go to Japan for a week through the program. Local dignitaries and town government and library officials have gone and they’ve exchanged music and ballet programs. So there have been all kinds of cultural exchanges. Many of the people from here use my paintings as gifts when they go over there and when the Japanese visitors come, they often buy my work. So that’s how it’s happened. It’s a great exchange program.

Lynn BeneventoTFG: I never knew about the exchange. That sounds great. So what do you like to do besides paint? Any hobbies?
LB:
The thing I enjoy most is hiking.

TFG: Oh yes, I saw that you’ve climbed 41 of the Adirondack peaks!
LB:
Oh I forgot to change that on my website. I’m a 46er! My husband and two boys and I started hiking 23 years ago, and I’m actually going to write a book about it. We were very stupid about it at first, but we learned. My husband still climbed even after he got sick. He did dialysis on top of one peak and did another after a kidney transplant. He really wanted to finish the peaks before he passed away so I made it my goal to finish for him last year. It involved lots of crying and the hardest ones were left. I used it to cope with losing him though. And I did finish.

TFG: What a lovely testament. Congratulations.
LB:
Thanks. I really like wearing my 46er pin now.

The Lynn Benevento Gallery is open in the summer Tues-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and in the winter Wed-Sat 10am-5pm. For more information, visit www.lynnbenevento.com or call 518-696-5702.

–Sarah Cramer is an Assistant Editor of The Free George.

Short URL: http://thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/?p=3667

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