Art is a very personal experience for 24-year-old Appleton painter Isabella Cuomo.
She got her start drawing but fell in love with painting after some trial and error.
“Color mixing was really hard for me because I wasn’t taught properly until I went to school,” she says. “And then all of a sudden when I was taught it was like, ‘Oh, wow,’ and then it just kind of came naturally.”
“The colors within my paintings, I like them to be something very interesting, to be something different from what you see in normal skin tones,” she says.
That’s clear looking at the dramatic, jewel-toned portraits she creates featuring people who are important in her life.
“Everyone in my painting is someone I know in my life and that’s kind of close to me, and I feel like that helps too,” says Cuomo. “When you know someone and you paint them I feel like it’s more personal.”
She added that she chooses the colors in each piece based on how it matches the subjects’ personality, something she’s able to do because of that closeness.
Her work is currently on display at Tempest Coffee Collective. She said the response to her work has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging, something she needed after struggling with self-doubt about her art in college.
“It’s not that I’m going to stop making art, but sometimes you think ‘I shouldn’t be doing this as much,’” she says.
She also took a break from art during the pandemic because she found it hard to find inspiration without face-to-face interaction.
“I feel like faces are so important—like they’re so personal,” she says. “And that’s kind of why I like to do portraits because everyone’s face is so different.”
Cuomo will be headed abroad for grad school in the fall. Although she isn’t planning on studying art, she says she’ll keep painting just for herself.
“It’s something that is calming for me and it feels really personal.”
Her art can be viewed on Instagram (@isabellacuomo) and is displayed and available for purchase at Tempest Coffee Collective, 181 Riverheath Way, Appleton. —By Danielle Zinsli