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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hollis artist exhibits alcohol ink paintings

When health challenges forced Hollis artist Alene Sirott-Cope to give up pottery, she was devastated. But in the end, she wound up finding a new creative outlet from the experience: alcohol ink painting.

“It’s great for me, because it’s kind of a healing process for me,” Sirott-Cope said. “I was so upset about giving up my pottery that I needed something I could be as passionate about.” ...

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When health challenges forced Hollis artist Alene Sirott-Cope to give up pottery, she was devastated. But in the end, she wound up finding a new creative outlet from the experience: alcohol ink painting.

“It’s great for me, because it’s kind of a healing process for me,” Sirott-Cope said. “I was so upset about giving up my pottery that I needed something I could be as passionate about.”

Sirott-Cope will exhibit her alcohol ink, mixed-media and photography work at the Hollis Social Library, 2 Monument Square, through July 10, with an artist’s reception this Sunday from 1:30-4 p.m.

Alcohol ink has been used in scrapbooking for years, Sirott-Cope said, but has only recently come into use as a fine art medium. The process is so new, she said, there are hardly any books on the subject. She learned everything she knows about it online.

“A friend of mine was doing these paintings, and part of the painting was alcohol ink. I kept asking her, ‘What are you doing to get that look?’” Sirott-Cope said. “The colors are just so vibrant, and when the colors touch the other colors, they take on a life of their own.”

Sirott-Cope said she’s always loved color, and was encouraged as a child to pursue art by her father, a portrait artist, despite the fact that most people were discouraged from entering the field.

Originally from Philadelphia, Sirott-Cope earned her bachelor’s degree in graphic design, with a minor in photography, from Moore College of Art & Design. She and her husband relocated to Hollis in 1998 for his job.

She previously taught graphic design and other art classes at colleges around Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts, but gave it up, along with pottery, when she was diagnosed with spinal stenosis.

“It was disappointing to me, because I loved it,” said Sirott-Cope, who still owns two kilns. “So I had to find something to do that wouldn’t be as much stress on my body, and I ended up with the alcohol inks.

“I can’t not be creative in some way, so I just try to find ways to still be creative, even if I had to give up my pottery.”

She found support when she became a member of the Hollis Arts Society, with which she regularly exhibits her work.

“They encouraged me, and I wanted to hang out with them,” Sirott-Cope said. “I’m pretty happy with how my art life has turned out, how it’s evolving.”

One of the ways her work has evolved is adding dog photography to her repertoire. Sirott-Cope has four dogs – two old English sheepdogs and two corgis – which are often the subjects of her artwork.

“They’re just the sweetest things. Whenever I see a dog, I want to photograph it. It’s their personalities,” Sirott-Cope said. “They have such expression-filled faces. You can almost see what they’re thinking.”

Sirott-Cope’s photography series of dogs on the beach was recently displayed in the main atrium and first-floor hallways at St. Joseph Hospital, as part of the facility’s Art Reach program.

“I enjoy my dogs so much, I carry it into my artwork,” Sirott-Cope said. “I like to portray them having fun, enjoying themselves, playing. They just have a blast.”

Sirott-Cope pays back to the animals by donating artwork to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua. The society has featured her paintings on wine bottles sold to benefit the organization, which are sold at IncrediBREW, Trader Joe’s and soon, state liquor stores.

More than 100 artists sent in their samples when the humane society put out a call for the labels, Sirott-Cope said, and it came down to her and one other artist.

“I think when they called me for an interview, they must have heard the enthusiasm in my voice for the pets,” she said. And as an added bonus, “The wine is really good!”

In addition to her work for the humane society and freelance graphic design, Sirott-Cope takes commissions for pet portraits. She can take the photos, or interested parties can send along their own for her to make alcohol ink tiles.

“People think they need to send me a great pictures, but it doesn’t have to be a prize-winning photograph,” she said. “I can work with it.”

She also teaches regular workshops around New Hampshire and Massachusetts, with the League of NH Craftsmen and Wild Salamander in Hollis, and can be booked for painting parties at people’s homes.

“That’s fun, because I love watching people’s reactions when the colors touch,” she said. “And I’m kind of obsessed with that right now, because I love the colors. A lot of people are so into it, I’m so happy.”

For those interested in meeting Sirott-Cope and learning more about her artwork, she’ll be on hand at the Hollis library Sunday, where there will be light refreshments, original matted pieces and a chance to chat with the artist herself. All of the artwork featured at the library is for sale. As Sirott-Cope says, her studio is brimming with paintings, and she needs to make room for even more artwork.

“When people purchase my artwork, (and) they like it well enough to bring it home with them, it validates my efforts. It supports my enthusiasm,” she said.

And while parting with her cherished pieces might be difficult, she knows they’re in good hands.

“They love it because they bought it. As long as I know the people appreciate it, I know they’re going to a good home.”

Kathleen MacFarline can be reached at 594-6482 or kmacfarline@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow MacFarline on Twitter (@Telegraph_KatiM).