“I don’t have a story – I’m just a painter,” announces Alice Weil seated a bit uncomfortably – thanks to the presence of a persistent photographer – in her light-filled Menlo Park studio.
But then the stories start coming. About moving to the hills of the Peninsula as a child and being transfixed by the smell of turpentine and oil emanating from a neighbor’s studio. About marrying her Woodside High School classmate even though she didn’t know him when they were in school (they met eight years later). About the kind of music she paints t0 – make that country and western and reggae. “Classical is too unsettling to me,” she says.
If she doesn’t actually make a living as an artist, sales are steady, and, as she puts it, “it pays for my habit.” She wins awards, most recently “Best in Show” of the Menlo Art League. Her California landscapes also make their way out of the state; currently she has 15 paintings at a gallery in Downer’s Grove, Illinois.
If it was the smell of an artist’s studio that first drew Alice to her medium, it’s one that she’s trying to leave behind. “I’m trying to ban turpentine and as many toxic products as possible from my studio, ” she says. “I’m doing this for my own health as well as the environment. The oil paint itself isn’t great but I can’t do much about that.
“I use baby oil to clean my brushes and orange-based varnish as a medium. My studio smells like babies and oranges! I love it.”
Alice is one of five artists who will be exhibiting paintings and fine art photography in Menlo Park during the 2010 Silicon Valley Open Studios. The free event will take place the weekends of May 8-9 and May 15-16, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm at a group site at 865 Partridge Avenue. All of the artists will be available to speak with visitors.
Photo of Alice Weil by Chris Gulker
Summer Golden Hills, Oil on Canvas by Alice Weil (c) 2010. Used with permission.