By ROBIN CAUDELL Press Republican
---- — ESSEX — Randy Boutilier’s parents, Harold and Leonia, gave him the perfect foundation to become an artist.
Harold didn’t retire until he was 75 as owner of Boutilier’s Art Store in Burlington. Leonia was a professionally trained portrait artist.
“She was from Belgium,” said Randy Boutilier, a Port Henry resident who has three mixed-media paintings in the group exhibition, “Small Works,” running through Aug. 22 at the Adirondack Arts Association Gallery in Essex.
“She was a war bride. My father met her during the Occupation. He was, obviously, a soldier. He married her and brought her home.
“She was actually schooled in Paris to be an artist. She had her techniques. Everything had to be perfect.”
Boutilier’s Art Store was where Randy was schooled informally about art.
“That’s how I got my first insight and appreciation of art … seeing the local artists, seeing some professional artists, seeing the famous artists’ prints that came to the store. That’s how I learned to do the framing.
“These are not my frames, but the larger paintings, I start with raw wood, and I make my own frames.”
In “Small Works,” he has three 11-by-14-inch paintings: “Siesta,” “Sunflower Burst” and “Santa Fe.”
“Each one of them kind of represents the Southwest. In the winter, I travel to Mexico each year, Baja. And, that’s where I get some of my ideas for these paintings.
“I also have other types of paintings that represent the Northwest and possibly the Northeast.
“I do environmental paintings. I do political paintings. I do soft, cozy paintings. I do edgy paintings. I have a vast imagination that keeps me going year after year. I don’t have to really look very far to come up with what I’m doing.”
CARDS FOR MOTHER
While his mother was dying, Randy started painting cards for her.
“She always painted all the children’s cards, their anniversaries and their birthdays. When she became ill, I decided I would give it a shot myself. So, I started painting her cards, and she started laughing.
“And then I painted more, and she told me, basically, my sister had all the talent.”
Randy dug in and kept painting.
“And then when she died, I entertained my father. He had an art store, so he was an art critic. He told me, ‘Randy, you have something there but promise me to never take a lesson.’ So I never have taken a lesson.
“I’m completely self-taught except for what my mother showed me how to do. That’s how I started. And I just keep paintings. I love it. It gives me a peace of mind.”
Rainy weather in the Northeast has its perks.
“We have a lot of time inside,” Randy said. “And that gives me the opportunity to paint.
“Come fall, I take my art on the road, and I travel to Florida and New Orleans. I go to Texas, Colorado, and I end up in Baja, Mexico. I have a good following of California people that live in Baja.
“So, my art is actually all over the world.”
Email Robin Caudell:firstname.lastname@example.orgIF YOU GO WHAT: "Small Works," a group exhibition. WHEN: Through Aug. 22. WHERE: Adirondack Arts Association, 2752 Essex Road, Essex. HOURS: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. PHONE: 963-8309. E-MAIL: email@example.com