Behind the Texture

with Aislinn Paige Calabrese

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Aislinn Paige Calabrese is an artist living in western Massachusetts. After graduating UMass Boston with a degree in fine arts, Aislinn worked for three years as an art teacher. Afterwards, Aislinn continued refining her craft until she eventually founded Aislinn Paige Art, a company specializing in decorative painting and murals. Aislinn’s passion for decorative painting and murals began while studying conflict resolution in Northern Ireland. She became enthralled with local murals depicting the ongoing conflict between the Irish and English and since then has focused heavily on murals and their ability to tell a story. Aislinn is happiest with her hands covered in paint or fur from her dog Auggie.

What excites you about working as a decorative artist and what do you enjoy about being part of the decorative industry/community?
Anyone who knows me knows I love a challenge and I need variety in my life. I’ve always been happiest tackling a new problem or interacting with a new person. Decorative painting offers me something new everyday. New walls to paint. New clients to make happy. Of course I can draw on past experiences for inspiration on a new project, but no two things are ever the same. I take pride in my ability to create unique pieces and find creative ways to help a client’s vision come to life.

I also love helping people find more emotion and fulfillment in their lives. Finding ways to make daily activities become experiences. We live in a world where people are looking for more. A restaurant needs to be more than tables and food, a bar needs to be more than drinks and low lights, and a yoga studio needs to be more than just a big mirror and upbeat teacher. People crave emotion and theme and meaning and they choose to spend time in places that align with their feelings. As an artist, I love the ability to help everyone find that connection, and being given the opportunity to do so is truly humbling.

What was something work related that you are particularly proud of?
The past two summers I have had the honor of working with a charity called Tommy’s Place in both Falmouth, MA and Centerville, MA. Tommy’s Place is dedicated to helping children diagnosed with cancer experience the best family vacations possible. Families can apply to spend a week at Tommy’s Place which is a dream vacation home for any child. Currently there are two houses and both are completely covered in art donated by artists all throughout Massachusettes. Rooms range from super hero themed rooms to Italian villa themed rooms. One house has a Simpsons themed tavern in the basement, there is a Breakfast at Tiffany’s room, the list goes on and on. Working with so many talented artists on such an emotional project was both humbling and inspirational. It helped me to refine my skills and gave me a sense of purpose. The founder Tim O’Connell keeps all of the artists updated with stories and pictures of kids who stay there and how truly happy they are. This experience more than any has been transformative for me.

What would you say is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Growing up, my biggest obstacle was my self confidence. Art was never something that came easy to me. I have worked at it my entire life. In school, I would often see students with natural talent sketching homework five minutes before class that turned out as good as any other student’s work. I would sit there wondering “How did they do that?”, “How did it come so naturally to them?” Many of these students did not even continue to pursue fine arts. It was simply something that came easily to them. And watching so many talented people pursue other passions seriously made me question my own skills and ability to succeed as an artist. I spent many years comparing my work to others. But I realized that can be a fatal flaw for an artist. We should learn from one another but we should also embrace the things that make our work our own. So I Iearned to get past comparing my art to others. I learned to accept and love my work for what it was because it was mine. My work has perfections and imperfections and rough edges and mistakes I have layered over. But I’ve learned that making something that makes me feel something and makes others feel something is what my art is really about. And that’s more important to me now than endless head games about what others are capable of.

What are some of your interests outside of decorative arts?
I am a huge fan of breweries and wineries. I love a good place to spend time with friends and family, maybe listen to live music, play some board games, walk to a food truck. I also have a mini goldendoodle named Auggie. Most conversations have a weird way of finding their way back to Auggie at some point and I think all of my friends can attest to that.

Where do you live and what’s your favorite part about your town/city?
My boyfriend and I recently bought a house in Longmeadow, MA. I grew up in western MA and after nine years in Boston being home really feels special. My family means everything to me and being so close to them, particularly my sister, mother, and grandmother, has easily been my favorite part. Through the magic of the Find-My-Friends app I’ve become an expert at popping into a restaurant when my mom and dad are out to dinner and sharing a glass of wine with them. I guess after she reads this article the secrets out on how I always run into them ‘by chance’. I also get to see my grandmother regularly which has been the best. I will stop over on random weeknights to chat about the Red Sox or really anything just to spend time with her. Along with my family, the ability to branch out and explore the Berkshires, Vermont, or pop back to Boston if a job calls for it, has been so wonderful!

See more of Aislinn’s work here.

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