By Serena Howlett, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Artists Janet Schwartz and Dave Kaphammer paint in separate studios but often show paintings in the same gallery.
“We push each other’s development,” Schwartz said. “We learn from each other.”
In 2013, Kaphammer and Schwartz met at an event for artists held at the Art & Frame Emporium in Westborough. As local artists mingled and viewed each other’s work, Kaphammer and Schwartz discovered each other. Kaphammer grew up in New Jersey; Schwartz in New York. As children, they both loved to draw and their families encouraged their talents. In college, Schwartz studied studio art and education; Kaphammer, electrical engineering.
“I was surprised to learn I loved to teach,” Schwartz recalled. “I had found my other passion.”
As a wife and mother, Schwartz put her talent on hold. Then one day her grown-up daughter, Nina, told her she should to return to her former passion.
“Nina put the fire under me,” Schwartz said.
Kaphammer developed his artistic talent through courses in drawing at the Worcester Art Museum, then studied painting at the Sudbury pastel studio of Jeanne Rosier Smith.
“Jeanne showed me there were limitless possibilities with pastels,” said Kaphammer.
When Kaphammer and Schwartz met, Kaphammer was painting exclusively with pastels; Schwartz used a variety of media.
“After meeting Dave,” Schwartz recalled, “I took a deep dive into pastels…Compared to oil painting pastel gives the artist closer contact with the paper, similar to drawing. Instead of mixing colors, the artist has many different colors of pastel sticks to choose from. If artists don’t have exactly the shade they want, they can use a technique to blend colors. Also, artists can use the pastel stick in different ways to produce the same effect as a brush or palette knife.”
The pair are now both members of the Central Mass Pastel Society.
Back in their studios, Schwartz and Kaphammer use reference photos to inspire paintings. Schwartz recalled, “One day driving down a country road, I was looking out the window from the passenger side and something caught my eye. ‘Hey, Dave, stop the car’, l yelled. We’ve gotta go back to take a picture.”
Kaphammer remembers running by an interesting tractor one morning. That tractor became the focus for several paintings.
Kaphammer said he is mostly interested in “light and shadows,” while Schwartz prefers “architecture and ordinary landscapes.” Several years ago, thanks to her lengthy commute, Schwartz became interested in the artistic potential of cars and highways.
The duo sometimes collaborates for shows and workshops. In 2019, the exhibit “In Motion, At Rest” featured Schwartz’ painting of vehicle headlamps illuminating a blurry highway alongside Kaphammer’s image of a 1950s’ car with tailfins and a man seated next to the open trunk.
“We share the work of promoting our paintings,” Schwartz said. “I’m the marketing person – Dave is the technical guy.”
Both artists are members of the prestigious Copley Society of Art and will participate in its upcoming virtual shows: Fresh Paint, Hidden Gems (Sept. 1–17) and Small Works (Sept. 1–Nov. 1).
Thinking recently about how he could represent essential workers, Kaphammer made the acquaintance of a friendly UPS driver, who “turned out to be known by name to many people.” Kaphammer painted the driver seated in his delivery van, pausing to review messages. Kaphammer’s painting of the driver, “Quiet Moment,” will be on the Copley Society website.
When not painting, Schwartz develops corporate training materials. Kaphammer is a project engineer at Bose.
“I think of myself as an artist and lifelong educator,” Schwartz noted.
Kaphammer added: “I am never too tired to paint. The time I spend working on art gives me so much energy and joy. I’m constantly thinking about what to work on next, always drawing something, always doing something with art, never bored.”