Nothing says summer in Rhode Island like a classic seascape painting. And here in Newport, when it comes to ocean scenes and nature in art, local artist Tom Martinelli is king.
While one may think beach scenes have oversaturated the New England art world, Martinelli takes what could be a cliché snapshot of the Newport coast and elevates his carefully chosen scenes to new heights using layered imagery and mediums that allow for a chunky texture in most of his work.

Tom Martinelli Kristen Coates Painting Artist

Born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Tom Martinelli is a self taught fine arts painter. His work as a contemporary artist is inspired by a love of nature and his surroundings. Living and working in Newport for the past 18 years, his large canvases portray a range of seascapes that capture the area’s unique, yet classic New England character.

Martinelli has an incredible ability to artfully assemble various elements such as sand, paper, straw, tar, and glass with oil paints to create three dimensional seascapes, landscapes, and more. It is this particular talent that lends brilliant color and texture to Martinelli’s work, leaving each viewer with a lasting impression. His work is expansive, somehow managing to simultaneously soothe and excite. It’s serene, yet commanding. Peaceful, yet bold. 

Described by one viewer as “minimalist abstraction,” his work is almost reminiscent of Rothko’s color fields, but from a naturalist perspective.

Tom’s work is distinctly his own, instantly recognizable upon entering the gallery on Bowen’s Wharf. Martinelli’s work is sought after and the gallery draws in crowds of locals and tourists intent on learning more about the larger than life renderings of Newport’s loveliest scenes.

The following story sums up the effect Martinelli’s work has on people. One summer afternoon, a couple popped into the gallery on a post-lunch stroll down America’s Cup Avenue. While perusing the gallery collection and chatting about local hot spots, the conversation came to a sudden halt when they caught sight of Martinelli’s massive rendition of Brenton’s Point.

When asked if they had a space in mind for the large piece, they said, “We’ll build one for it.” They were hooked. The next hour was spent deliberating between two of Martinelli’s latest works, Brenton Point and Incoming Tide. Enamored with the two pieces and unable to leave one behind, the couple decided to take both of them home.

Tom Martinelli Kristen Coates Artist
Martinelli’s work seems to have that effect on people. It manages to be both fresh and nostalgic, drawing admiration from all appreciators of true art. Come by the gallery and see Martinelli’s creations for yourself or see more of paintings here online.

Editor: Kristen Coates
Contributor: Sam Cassidy
Photographs: Kristen Coates

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