The Hippo


May 24, 2020








Alli Blanchette. Kelly Sennott photo.

Attend the 2016 Greeley Park Art Show

Where: Greeley Park, 100 Concord St., Nashua
When: Saturday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What: Adult competition Saturday, EAST/student competition (ages 6 to 18) Sunday; both days, there’s Painting With Friends, sponsored by Express It Art, as well as a silent auction and puppet shows
Admission: Free

Fresh faces at art show
Second-year artist on painting, showing and finding balance

By Kelly Sennott

 The 63rd Greeley Park Art Show will feature artists who’ve been selling work there for decades, but visitors will find some up-and-coming painters here too — like Nashua resident Alli Blanchette, who’s taking her second swing at the event this weekend.

Blanchette only recently jumped back into the local painting scene a couple years ago. She hadn’t touched a brush in more than a decade, since studying studio art at Oklahoma State University, then graphic design at Hesser College. 
“When I was in school, I used to do very intricate stuff, and I would never finish anything,” Blanchette said during an interview at her sunny Nashua studio last week, her dog Lovey by her side. “I guess I lost interest, and that’s why I went into graphic design. I felt it would be more stimulating.”
It wasn’t; the degree taught her she hates sitting at a desk, and so for a while, Blanchette focused on other interests — upcycling furniture (which left her with a massive latex paint collection) and gardening. 
Her love of painting returned with a vengeance in December 2013 while she was working at Shady Hill Greenhouses in Londonderry. She’d been dressing up wreaths and kissing balls when her boss asked her to paint an eight-foot sign on heavy plywood to attract passersby. Magic happened when paint touched wood.
“I thought, ‘This is great! This feels good!’ I hadn’t done this in so long. And I had never worked really big like that,” she said. 
Not long afterward, she asked her brother-in-law, a carpenter, to build her an easel, which now sits in the corner of her studio. Alongside it is a shelf of hand-mixed paints in mason jars. Her first pieces were done on plywood with house paint, which is how she prefers to work today.
At the time of her interview, Blanchette was placing the finishing touches on the pieces she’d bring to the show, which occurs Saturday, Aug. 20, and Sunday, Aug. 21, in Greeley Park. She plans to have both large and small original pieces, as well as notecards and magnets for those who can’t afford the more expensive work.
“It’s a big purchase. We’re talking hundreds of dollars. And there’s a reason it’s hundreds of dollars, because we put a lot of work into it, but it’s hard to part with hundreds of dollars. A lot of people will sit on it and think about it for a little while. … I’ve had people call me back, a year and a half after seeing one of my paintings, and say, ‘Hey, I really want to buy that for my wife — she’s still thinking about it,’” she said. 
Blanchette describes her style as “whimsical impressionism,” full of color and vibrancy. Her graphic design degree may be to blame.
“In graphic design, you want to catch people’s attention, and you want to keep things simple. And that’s basically what my art is all about,” she said.
It’s also looser and freer than her work at school. At first glance, her paintings, which hang on the walls of her studio, kitchen and bedroom, might not look like anything at all. But step away and you may find the outlines of a frog, giraffe, elk or dog wearing a red tutu hidden between the brush strokes. Or, you might not, which is OK too.
“I love it when people interpret my artwork as something I hadn’t intended,” she said.
After encouragement from friends and family, she began exhibiting and selling her work about a year ago. Her first show was Greeley Park, but she’s also had work in Portsmouth and Derry.
“I thought, well, why not try it? I’m going to be 60 someday thinking, why didn’t I just try it? Why do I have an attic full of paintings I didn’t try to get out there into the world?” she said. 
It’s been a matter of finding balance.
“When I first started [doing art shows], I was like, ‘I’m going to start doing this every weekend!’ But it’s exhausting. It’s essentially setting up a store and taking it down at the end of the day,” Blanchette said. “What I found is that, when I was being really aggressive, it was hard to produce. … I had to realize that I’m doing this for fun. To make a job out of it is not going to work for me because I don’t like stress. … Some people thrive on stress. I don’t. So I had to step back.”
She has no regrets.
“I’m 100 percent happier,” she said.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu