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Capt. Phil Cusumano (Filippo)
I am driven to express! The creative process is part of me whether it is an oil painting on canvas, an etching on glass or computer graphics. My passion and commitment is foremost to documenting the fishing industry from WWII and after the tall ships to the present day.
From 1972 – 1988 watercolor was my medium of choice. Some of this choice was influenced by my study with internationally known Rockport artist, John Terelak. Then I started using oil as my medium and discovered that I could capture more of the detail that I was looking for along with the realism. Since then oil has become my primary medium of expression.
I’m not sure how an idea for a painting first comes to me. Sometimes it is a continuation of a past painting and other times while I’m painting a scene an idea for a new direction is created. The detail is very important to me so I take very special care in making the drawing as close to photo real as is possible. I then by the grid method, enlarge my grid on the canvas. Some correction is done at that point. I will often do an under painting in gray tones or in some sort of sepia color
I know that I like to make my painting about an activity in the marine industry. A theme or idea about a painting can come from the fishermen who view my work. We talk about “the good old days” and out of that generally comes an idea. Since “I have been there and done that” as the saying goes, I can show the viewer a particular perspective that I, and other fishermen get. I have had friends who were also in the fishing industry look at my paintings and shiver. They say “O my God, I remember just what that felt like.” Most often I have to do some further research if it is not a boat I am familiar with. Some of the time because I am familiar with how it all looks and feels I am able to start right in with thumb nail sketches of the scene. Getting the detail to be accurate is very important to me. I then do the under painting in gray tones or in sepia. To that I begin adding layers of oils until I achieve the color and depth of the scene. I like to keep the paint close to the canvas preferring to do the mixing on my palette rather than on the canvas.
My satisfaction comes from being able to depict and document the feeling of fishing as if you were right on deck. As the Eastern rig boats (boats that fish from the side) become more extinct and are replaced by stern fishing boats it is important for me to keep the history alive.
The feedback I get especially from fishermen (retired and active) is how well I have captured the realism of the activity for them and how much it generates past and present memories of fishing. Since I lived that life for many years I believe that my own personal experiences at sea also really assist in capturing the feeling and detail.
Cape Ann continues to be rich with history of the fishing industry which I hope to be able to continue to document. I also look forward to doing a series of paintings of Gloucester’s harbor and city skyline as it is presently, to then compare with to the series that Winslow Homer did of it in the 1870’s and to contrast the changes.
He is currently a Professional Artist member of the International Society of Marine Painters (I.S.M.P.),
an artist member of the American Society of Marine Artists (A.S.M.A.) and
artist member or the Marblehead Art Association as well as a
artist plus member of the Newburyport Art Association.
He is currently a member of seARTS (Society for the Encouragement of the Arts).
You can contact Capt. Phil by phone at 978-281-3023 or snail mail at
Capt. Phil Cusumano 20 Grapevine Road, Gloucester, MA 01930.
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