WESTPORT, Conn. – Becoming an artist wasn’t something that happened by chance for Westport painter Catherine Zappi. It was in her blood.
“My interest in art began at a very young age, greatly inspired by my father who was an exceptional artist and architect, as well as my brother,” said Zappi, who paints in both oils and acrylics.
Ten years before Zappi was born, her father Fred was accepted into the Famous Artists School in Westport, whose faculty included Norman Rockwell and Jon Whitcomb. But to support his family, her father turned his attention from illustration to architecture, she said.
Growing up, Zappi said she was visual and “always creating some form of art.” In high school, she took every available art class.
Despite her love for the arts, Zappi didn’t start her career as a painter. Instead, she went into the market research and recruiting industry, where she worked for several years. It wasn’t until after she had children that she discovered her passion for painting.
“I began to dabble in painting when my kids were in high school, and found that once I started painting I was hooked,” she said. “I have always had a tremendous amount of creative energy and painting enables me to unleash that.”
Zappi attended the Silvermine Art Center, where she studied with local artists and concentrated on painting full time about two years ago.
Her paintings are largely inspired by coastal landscapes and forests, she said. Major sources of inspiration for her work, she said, have been coastal New England, especially Westport, Cape Cod and Nantucket; the forests of New York state; and the countryside of England and France.
“There are so many places to seek inspiration in Westport — it is truly one of the most beautiful New England towns,” she said, citing Compo Beach and Saugatuck Shores as favorite spots. “There is so much energy at the beach — the thrust of the water and the jetties, the graceful movements and sound of the beach grass, the textures of the rocky, shell-filled shores, the colors and the light.”
Zappi’s paintings have been exhibited in galleries throughout Fairfield County and Massachusetts. Her work is in an exhibit at the Ferguson Library in Stamford. Beginning March 18, her paintings will be featured in Wide Open 3 in Brooklyn, N.Y., through April 1. From there, her paintings will be displayed in Greenwich and Westport.
“I love the adventure,” she said of painting. “Every time I stand in front of the canvas, it's like meeting someone for the first time. The possibilities are infinite.”