By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Southborough – For some, inspiration comes at a very early age. Sometimes, as with Pamela Esty, it comes in the form of an “amazing red crayon.” Esty has been drawing and painting ever since she can remember, often fighting over the amazing red crayon, which she and her brother both coveted and which unlocked their imaginations.
Esty was born in Framingham and moved to Southborough when she was a young girl. She attended kindergarten at St. Mark's Episcopal Church and first and second grade in what is now the Police Station. When her family outgrew their home in Southborough in 1963 they moved to Framingham. At the age of 19, Esty moved to Europe where she lived for 15 years. It was in Europe that she began painting in the style in which she paints today. She exhibited her work in Germany and Belgium, receiving the Prix de la Créativité award. It was also in Europe that she had three children (whose faces appear in many of her paintings). In 1989, Esty moved back to Framingham with her children. She attended Regis College to study graphic design and she was the recipient of the Mary Bryan Award. In 1992 she met and fell in love with Whitney Beals. They married and have lived on his parent's farm in Southborough ever since. The farm fields, animals and woodlands provide plenty of inspiration for her paintings.
Esty is inspired by and loves to paint children, animals, nature and all things “magical.” Through her paintings, she takes viewers to a mysterious world of diminutive sprites and watchful snails festooned with flowers and lush plants. Her work is characterized by meticulous detail. The paintings tell stories and allegories with humor and pathos.
Esty illustrated the Beacon Street Girls book series. The books were created for young readers, ages 8 to 12, and required a tremendous amount of illustration. The most difficult task, said Esty, was making sure that the character illustrations were believable. In order to get it right, she showed the portraits to a number of girls. She wanted to get their feedback after they had been read descriptions of each character. Esty went through a number of revisions before she and the team that created the Beacon Street Girls felt they had gotten everything just right. [Esty illustrated the series prior to Simon & Schuster purchasing the publishing rights to the books – the current cover illustrations are slightly different from hers.]
Esty enjoys the fact that illustration can add details to a story and spark imagination.
“When I paint, I go into a very meditative space,” Esty said, “I don's actually think about what I am going to paint prior to painting. I usually put water on the paper, add color and wait until I see something [a face, an animal, a plant], then I start to draw and paint around that image. The act of painting is very energetic and calming at the same time.”
When she paints, Esty said that she loves listening to music, books on CD (from the Southborough Library, of course), and playing period dramas on her iPad. She usually paints indoors, and mostly in the fall and winter, because she loves to be outside in the spring and summer. If she doesn's need to get up too early she will paint late into the night.
For now, Esty is working on two projects: First, she plans to re-illustrate and complete a children's book that she started writing many years ago and second, she plans to work on some larger scale water color environmental pieces. Her son built her a studio a few years ago, and she now has the space to take on this project. All she said she needs now is to “discipline herself” and carve out the time.
Aside from painting, Esty works as an art director and designer for private clients and most recently a production company [Boston Productions, Inc.] in Norwood. She has worked on many exhibits, creating illustrations, animations and user interfaces for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Connecticut Science Center, and the soon to be opened Flint Hills Discovery Center, to name a few. Esty said this collaborative work is a nice balance to her more fanciful artistic pursuits.
Esty sells her paintings through shows in the area, and she sells tiles made from copies of her artwork online. In addition, she hosts an open house and sale with other local artists on the first Saturday of every December, during which original artwork, prints and tiles are for sale.
Esty will be hosting a talk for teens and ‘tweens on the Beacon Street Girls at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Southborough Library, 25 Main St. She will discuss her artwork and profession as an illustrator, and answer questions. Registration is not required. For more information or to register call 508-485-5031.
To see Esty's work visit portfolio: http://pamelaesty.viewbook.com/paintings_of_untold_tales/paintings