RALEIGH — When artist Constance Pappalardo paints, she often feels that she is in conversation with her canvas about what step to take next.
She may want to go one way, but her paints and brushes insist on another. Usually though, they come around.
“I kid around about it,” she said. “I say I fight with the canvas and I eventually win.”
Pappalardo works in variety of styles, from large watercolor abstracts that emphasize movement and color to black and white linear work that draws on her experience listening to music. She’s also added mixed-media pieces on wood to her repertoire.
All three styles will be on display this month at Blake Street Studio and Shops in an exhibit Pappalardo calls “A Box of Chocolates.”
Depending on the emotion she seeks to express or the story she wants to tell, Pappalardo turns to different styles. Mixed media might work best for telling a story, while a colorful painting might best convey an emotion.
“People always talk about how an artist goes from one period to another. But I've found that for me I need to express different things at different times,” she said.
Pappalardo, 58, was born in Lima, Peru, and moved to New York City as a child. As a young adult, she studied at The Art Students League and School of Visual Arts.
But after Pappalardo married and had four children, her art took a back seat to her busy family life. She returned to her art many years later, about a decade ago, after the death of her teenage son.
A few months later, she started painting again. She never explicitly considered her art a kind of therapy, but it became a way to express herself.
“It was this feeling of, ‘Now it's time to do this,’” she said.
Where her art had once been dark and often full of angst, Pappalardo found her new work conveyed light and hope, a welcome development.
Pappalardo immersed herself in Raleigh’s art community with classes and shows, finding fellow artists who encouraged and supported her.
She became a member of the Visual Art Exchange and the Durham Art Guild and worked to foster the arts in Cary, where she resides.
But Raleigh has remained her artistic home.
“I just decided that it’s for me,” she said. “I’m here for good.”
Blake Street is located at 300 Blake St. The gallery is open for First Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Pappalardo’s work is on display through July 28.
The show also features work by painters Jaqueline Liggins and Ellen Gamble and mixed-media pieces by Debbie Crawford.
Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah