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Three dimensional art: An art form of its own

Posted by Laura Franzini  August 31, 2012 08:00 AM

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For as long as she can remember, Dorothy Adelman recalls, art was an important part of her life. Even though there were no role models in her immediate family, no mentors, no teachers, she found herself drawing and sketching throughout her childhood, and “loving” it. Wisely she says: “when you are good at something, you love it.”

Apparently, she was indeed good at what she did – so good, in fact, that, when she was just nine years old, she submitted one of her pencil drawings to a competition in her home town and won an honorable mention designation even though most of the entrants were adults and established artists.

As an adult she began to give more time to seriously studying art, taking individual classes with professional artists and attending pertinent continuing education art programs. Over the years that followed, her work (primarily in oils and acrylics), appeared in any number of exhibits throughout the Boston area, drawing extraordinary responses from both buyers and sponsors. In one showing she sold as many as eight of her works. In another, the sponsor wrote to thank her for the “exquisite exhibit” she had coordinated, noting that it was “truly magnificent” and “the most successful to date” at their showplace.

Although Dorothy has produced numerous paintings over the years, there is one that is so genuinely special that, when she took it to be framed, the framer was eager to buy it for himself, offering $500 (a huge amount at that point in time, the late 60’s). Her husband, however, insisted that she not sell it…”I’ll give you the $500 myself,” he said.

As an adult she began to give more time to seriously studying art, taking individual classes with professional artists and attending pertinent continuing education art programs. Over the years that followed, her work (primarily in oils and acrylics), appeared in any number of exhibits throughout the Boston area, drawing extraordinary responses from both buyers and sponsors. In one showing she sold as many as eight of her works. In another, the sponsor wrote to thank her for the “exquisite exhibit” she had coordinated, noting that it was “truly magnificent” and “the most successful to date” at their showplace.

Although Dorothy has produced numerous paintings over the years, there is one that is so genuinely special that, when she took it to be framed, the framer was eager to buy it for himself, offering $500 (a huge amount at that point in time, the late 60’s). Her husband, however, insisted that she not sell it…”I’ll give you the $500 myself,” he said.

Actually, Dorothy laughingly reports, her husband never gave her the $500, but she remembers very warmly the importance the painting had in their lives. As the focal point of their living room, the gentle, at-peace mood of the subject and of the overall piece sets an ambiance that prevails throughout the room.

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Perry Norton
Adelman's painting that once garnered a $500 offer.

During the time when she was still engaged in painting as much as time allowed – (she had three children to raise and a household to run), - a totally new direction entered Dorothy’s life and took its place as a primary emphasis in the art work she is still doing today. A friend who had been traveling in Europe introduced her to a process she had seen there which allows paintings to project a third dimension by bringing depth and contour to a flat print. In Dorothy’s words, “it makes the picture come alive.”

The process is called Papier Tole. It involves making a number of identical copies of a print, cutting out various sections and then layering the pieces one on top of another to literally create depth. It is a time consuming challenge but the results are remarkable.

PICTURE 2.jpg
Perry Norton
PICTURE 3.jpg
Perry Norton
PICTURE 4.jpg
Perry Norton
PICTURE 5.jpg
Perry Norton
PICTURE 6.jpg
Perry Norton

When Dorothy exposed this new adventure in art to her friends and acquaintances, there was huge enthusiasm (even among those who were not actually artists). She was urged to conduct a class to introduce the process to others. The one class was so sought after that after a while she was teaching four; she currently has two a classes a week, with students coming from many areas to participate. She has taught the skill for 42 years and her students have ranged in age from 30 to 95; she greatly values the intergenerational communication and rapport among her students. Once again, she is doing something she loves.

Dorothy, who has been a resident of the Boston suburbs most of her life, has recently moved to Lasell Village, the on-campus retirement community at Lasell College.

Myril Axelrod has been a writer for newspapers, magazine and professional journals for many years. She was a reporter for the New York newspaper PM and a vice president of Young and Rubicam advertising agency. She was a pioneer in adapting focus groups and in-depth interviewing for the marketing community. For the past four years she has lived at Lasell Village in Newton.

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