Artist Open House this weekend in Hollis

HOLLIS – Hollis resident Steve Previte recalls the exact moment he decided to become an artist.

He was in his 30s, working as an engineer and art wasn’t even a part of his life. His mother called him one day and told him to tune into a television show on PBS, where Bill Alexander was teaching people how to create a painting in half an hour.

“That half hour literally changed my entire life,” he said. “I watched and said, ‘That is amazing. I can do that.’ I bought his paints and brushes. I made a mess, but it unlocked me. I pursued art in a logical form. I did a lot of reading and went to museums. I was consumed with painting.”

He admits that his technique was very bad when he started, but somehow he managed to sell his work.

After a few years of honing his skills, he left corporate life and his 16 years as a manager at Teradyne in 1986 to focus full-time on his oil painting career.

Previte will host his annual fall open house Oct. 26-27, from noon-4 p.m., at his home studio at 223 Silver Lake Road. He will show a new collection of original oil paintings along with a variety of limited edition Giclee prints and will also accept new students for oil painting classes which he conducts at his studio in Nashua.

“I do an open house twice a year in the spring and the fall,” said Previte, who grew up in East Boston and has lived in Hollis for more than 35 years. “It’s an opportunity for us, either as a beginning or last hurrah, to bring all the pieces out and hang them up at home and serve refreshments.”

Previte describes his style as “representational impressionism,” where the light and atmosphere is focused on the rural landscape and architecture. Although he is known for his traditional New England landscapes, Previte says he likes to produce what he does well but also chooses to experiment with new subjects.

“I don’t want to be pigeonholed,” he said. “Some people stay with things and love what they are doing, but I also talk to a lot of other artists who will look at something and say they wished they could do that but feel locked into what they do. They are making a living but are not happy. I have to earn my living with what I do, but I do break out of the mold and try new things. When I was an engineer I had control over things. This is something that I love but it has mastery over me.”

This past year, he was inspired to create a performing arts series – paintings of subjects like ballerinas, and an orchestra conductor. To him, this means the viewer is more involved with the painting.

“I’m not into faces or portraits, but like getting creative with people,” he explained. “These are dynamic, with action going on. I have the back of a flamenco dancer in a dark environment. It really has a different mood to it.”

Previte participates in art shows throughout the Northeast, and also teaches painting to adults in his studio in downtown Nashua. He has students of all levels, from beginners to advanced.

“I love teaching,” he said. “Painting is a lonely life when it’s just you and the canvas and you have no one else to communicate with. It’s nice to have others to bounce ideas off of, and fun to be with people and get encouragement from them. We are always our own worst critic.”

He says he finds painting to be very rewarding, but says it is also hard to be satisfied with his work, especially if someone is going to pay money for it. He points out that 99 percent of people who look at his art won’t actually make a purchase, but he still finds it rewarding that they can get enjoyment from it.

Despite the challenges the economy has caused for “non-essentials” like original artwork, Previte says his new work has been well-received.