Dawn Evans Scaltreto is a professional fine artist, public artist and illustrator whose clients include the Boston Children’s Hospital, the Boston Museum of Science and Illuminations, Inc. She is a signature member and Past President of the New England Watercolor Society and an award winning artist. She is an Artist Member of the Academic Artist’s Association. A resident of Watertown, Massachusetts, for 35 years, she is active in many local arts organizations including Watertown Art Association and the Mosesian Center for the Arts where she is a studio artist. She teaches watercolor, acrylic and oil painting at the Watertown, Waltham and Brighton Senior Centers, and many adult, youth and intergenerational arts programs and courses. Her recent projects include creating new installation artwork for Boston Children’s Hospital and painting a “Play Me, I’m Yours” Street Piano featuring Penguins in the Rainforest. Her work has been featured on WCVB’s Chronicle and in print, including The Artist’s Magazine and Watercolor Magic magazine.
I create art to make people feel safer and calmer in an increasingly scary world. Much of my artwork is public art geared toward children and families in healthcare situations. If my art makes them feel more confident and relaxed, then I have achieved my goal. When I work with and for children, I am reminded that I need to think like a child to make art that connects with them and is relevant to their experience without talking down to them. I really love creating this type of art and want to do more of it.
I am also a fine artist specializing in watercolor. I am a Signature Member and past President of the New England Watercolor Society. I am an Artist Member of the Academic Artist Association. My watercolor piece, “Where’s my WD-40?” has been accepted into many juried shows and has received Honorable Mentions in the Watercolor Magazine 2007 Watermedia Showcase and the Artist’s Magazine. This artwork combines some of the aspects of watercolor I love best – the unexpected textures, the ability to layer and lift off to create a surprising sense of depth and rich, saturated colors. The title adds a whimsical tweak that has made this piece a favorite of the do-it-yourself set.
I start each piece with a series of thumbnail sketches. At this stage it is easy to get very creative and experimental – and also easy to cast off even very good ideas that will not work well in the finished piece. Unexpected connections occur in this stage that often defines the completed work. I use extensive photo reference and use my camera as much as a paintbrush in the creation and composition of my work. The actual painting of the piece is not nearly as exciting as the concept phase – I am just following the direction established through preliminary sketches. I usually work in watercolor or acrylic and often use unconventional ways of applying paint. My traditional brushwork is accented with airbrush, spatter, transparent glazes, sponges, rollers, my fingers – you name it.
I am working to find more opportunities to create art for children. I enjoy entering and producing artwork for temporary and permanent public art exhibits, and I have been included in "Play me, I'm Yours" Street Pianos Boston, Boston Cows on Parade for which I created 5 cows, art installations at Logan International Airport including the "Once Upon a Time in Massachusetts" rocking chair and three cows in the International terminal, a shoe that looks like a lion and a rabbit that looks like a race car! I continue to teach and share this great gift I have been granted, and hope each day that my art has reached and touched another soul.
On Creating Pediatric Public Art:
Creating art for children and their families is so important to me. I have had a chance to participate and create art for many different departments [at Children’s Hospital Boston, CHB] and it makes me feel good that I am producing art that has a real importance to families who are in need of comfort and a reassuring, colorful place to see that their children through a time of need.
Recently, a family with a desperately ill child in another state were told that there was not much that could be done for their child. This toddler had a rare heart defect that local specialists knew of no treatment or cure for. The parents refused to take no for an answer and give up hope. They turned to the internet to see if there was by some small chance any doctor who had a new treatment or procedure, and sure enough they found a doctor at CHB that was performing such a procedure. The family stayed in Boston for the duration of the child's treatment and recovery, and became very familiar with the beautiful art at Children's. As the child's strength improved, he was able to venture farther with his mom and dad, and grew to love many colorful artworks throughout the hospital. Finally, he was given the green light to go home, and his parents took him to the airport.
The child, who just a few months previous has been listless and ill, was now acting like any healthy toddler would - climbing over everything in sight at the airport, including my Art Rocks! rocking chair installed at the Kidport, the Once Upon a Time in Massachusetts chair created with help from my Watertown Middle School Mural Club kids. Filled with awe at how healthy and alive their child was, the parents wondered how they could thank the staff and physicians at Children's. The mother noticed my name on the chair, and remembered seeing my art at the hospital. When she got home, she contacted me through my website. Her e-mail actually went to my son, Jake, who at that time was my webmaster, first. Jake was really moved by this mother's request - could they commission me to create an artwork to thank the hospital? Even as I write this, my heart is again stirred by this particular commission. Her son loves dogs and butterflies, so through Betty (Bothereau, of L’attutude Gallery) and Jessica (Finch, of CHB), I created several artworks for the Cardiology Department.
My art may never hang in a museum, I may never be a household name in the art world, but I know without question that my art makes a difference daily to people who all need a little miracle in their life. It has great meaning to me.