Travels with Angela

by Tracy Sallivan

Loudoun Sketch Club: Tell us about yourself and your work.

I am a British-born watercolor painter who lives and works in Loudoun County. I’m lucky to have traveled extensively, painting from photos taken and from lovely memories of some of the most wonderful places in this world. Loudoun itself also offers much inspiration for my work and I am a member of the Virginia Watercolor Society, Loudoun Arts Council, Berkeley Arts Council, Shenandoah Arts Council and the Loudoun Sketch Club.

LSC: Portraits, landscape, still life, you do them all…you seem to challenge yourself a lot, what is your favorite and why?

My preferred medium is watercolor. I briefly tried oils years ago but didn’t like the smell. I do use acrylics sometimes but always return to watercolor.

AGeraldi_Balloons Over Istanbul
“Balloons Over Istanbul” by Angela Giraldi

As a child I was always sketching and coloring. Except for the occasional class with established local artists, I have not had any formal training. I do attend classes at Carver Center twice a week which makes me paint when I need some motivation or encouragement.I tend to be instinctive with using colors rather than adhering to which color mixes best with which color. I fly by the seat of my pants a lot.

I don’t draw a lot and try not to get caught up in detail and tend to draw with the paint. Of course, it doesn’t always work but I do try to learn from my mistakes and contrary to opinion, watercolor can be forgiving if you are gentle.

I prefer landscapes, street scenes, buildings. Wherever I go my camera goes too always with the idea of painting a picture. Sometimes one or two photos will be put together to form a whole scene.

“Sunny Day in Charleston” by Angela Giraldi

When composing a painting I look at angles, shadows, colors. I’m inspired by curious corners, fountains, ruins, unusual places. I want to see some energy there to make it look interesting. I also like to introduce a lot of light but it’s a learning process to get that light in there and resist painting in the white spaces.

Color is so important. So many people think of watercolor as wishy washy but that does not have to be true. I will paint pictures using colors that wouldn’t normally be expected. Blue buildings instead of brown, for example.

“Split” by Angela Giraldi

My current favorite color is Moonglow. It’s a very dark blue/purple and mixes well with other colors and it’s purple shines through to give a distinctive tint. Looking ahead, I’d like to be more experimental and daring both with color and subject and to loosen up much more.

LSC: Who are your artistic influences, both past & present?

I have always preferred impressionism. Abstract is too abstract for me; I want the viewer to at least have an idea of what they are looking at. Realism is too real; you may as well just take a photo. I remember discovering Mary Cassatt when I was quite young and delighted to discover that women too could be artists. I don’t paint anything like her but I do credit her with giving me encouragement to carry on. I love Igor Sava’s work. His capture of light is what I aspire to do one day. Maria Raczynska also paints beautifully and I watch a lot of her tutorials for tips and inspiration. My current favorite art book is Capturing Light in Watercolor by Marilyn Simandle.

LSC: What are you working on at the moment?

I have just finished a large painting of a scene I photographed at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC. Enormously tall trees and tiny people on a pathway in the foreground. The light coming through the trees at the top is a challenge.

“Woodgrove HS Stadium Before the Storm” by Angela Giraldi

My current work in progress is from a photo taken at one of my grandson’s recent football games.The sky over the stands was ominous, the lighting incredible and the immensity of the whole scene is forcing me to paint big. A real challenge for me.

LSC: What are your goals?

I suppose I should say I would love to sell more paintings. Who wouldn’t? But I want to paint what I like and just hope that other people like them too. My favorite piece of work is a painting called “Waikiki”: a small corner kiosk just off the beach with palm trees and birds of paradise.

“Wakiki” by Angela Giraldi

LSC: Do you have any advice to offer for those who want to start taking commissions?

I have not yet been asked to do a commission. Although it would be extremely flattering to be asked I think I would find it very confining. My idea and the buyer’s idea would probably not coincide and I would get frustrated.

LSC: What role does art play in your life and work?

Since retiring I have found that art can keep me occupied very contentedly for many hours at a time. It is relaxing but can be tiring at the same time but it’s a nice kind of tired, usually. Family-wise, my 7-year-old granddaughter Quinn paints all the time and proudly tells her teacher that her Nana is a watercolor painter. My other granddaughter, Katie, also seems to be following the correct path towards creativity and I will do my best to nurture it.

“Serenissima_Cafe” by Angela Giraldi

LSC: What projects, in 2019, are you looking forward to?

I’m researching some possible workshop retreats for next year and if any members have any suggestions I would love to hear them! We are also planning a trip to Venice next year and I know from previous visits there will be lots of inspiration there. Think of the colors and atmosphere! We will be visiting during the winter months when there is any air of mystery and romance all over the city.

LSC: Where can we see your work?

My work appears occasionally at Tryst Gallery, Artists in Middleburg, Balch Library, Berkeley Arts Council. I will also be participating in the Washington County Arts annual show this year. I will have a table at the Carver Center Christmas Bazaar on November 17th. Carver is not just a senior center. It’s a vibrant community, an active creative community. 

“Capistrano Mission” by Angela Giraldi

My favorite exhibition recently was my one woman show at Visit Loudoun in Leesburg. It was an honor to be asked.

“Heron” by Angela Giraldi

If you want to see my work, you can email me at or visit my Facebook page, angelagiraldi/artist.