Interview with Paul Arsenault

Paul Arsenault
Reclining Model, Metal SketchTM (cold pressed steel cut to resemble sketch). $3000.

Paul Arsenault is Boston-based artist who works in a variety of mediums. His most recent work includes the Metal Sketch™. It is a three-dimensional rendering of a line drawing or sketch, like Reclining Model (pictured). He was inspired to create his metal sketches when reviewing his doodles in his sketchbook one day, and asked himself why there had to be a difference between the two-dimensional and three-dimensional. He has found his way back to painting, and his art continues to address the questions that intrigue him.

What are your aspirations, either stylistically or professionally?

“I just want to keep making art. I hope it’s good, I try to make honest art. I’d love it if the world thought it was good and spent a lot of money on it, but I’m happy if I make a painting that I would hang in my living room and I smile when I look at it. I have a few like that, so I’m fine.

The paintings and the ideas dictate the style. It’s a bit of “whatever it takes.” I refuse to be tied down to a certain type of paint application or style because I don’t feel it’s being honest to the painting.”

Paul Arsenault

Bump 1, oil on paper, part of the “Things that Go Bump in the Night” series. – See more at:

What do you think viewers see in your work? What do you hope that they see?

“Well, I’ve done a lot of open studios and have seen thousands of people come through and talk about my art, and I’ve come to the simple conclusion that people see what they want to see. Sometimes that jives with what I was thinking when I made the work, sometimes it doesn’t.

There was one guy that came in with his daughter and they were both looking at a huge eight by seven foot painting I had just finished. The dad asked his daughter what the story was and she broke into a 45 minute long description of every actor in the painting: their past leading up to the image, their future leading away from the image. It was brilliant! Totally not what I was thinking when I made it, but just an incredibly imaginative story that inspired me to a few other ideas.

If you have a thought in your head and you put it onto canvas and show it to the world, you hope the viewer “gets it,” but if they have their own interpretation, and they will, I guess the final wish I have is that they see that I made an honest work of art.”

Why did you choose oil paint? Where do you think it stands in current trends in art?

“I’d say the history of the medium probably drew me to it. If you had asked me this question ten years ago (and others 25 years ago) I would have said, ‘Paint was pushed out by Conceptualism, but it’s making a comeback!’ I’m seeing more paint, more craft. Art should be conceptual of course, but it should also be hard to make, and well-crafted. I feel like a lot of Conceptualism took a bye on the hard and well-crafted part over the last quarter century. It’s a bit like baseball. If it was easy, everyone would be a major leaguer.”

Paul Arsenault

Guy 1 – Midlife crisis series – Oil on paper

Paul Arsenault’s works have been selected for the corporate Bank of America headquarters as well as Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming. His pieces are collected privately around the world, including Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Dublin, Munich, and Paris.

He is working on his newest series at the Vermont Studio Center. We expect him to unveil his latest collection in the fall of 2014.

Viewers can check his website at

Interview with Paul Arsenault was last modified: January 25th, 2017 by Ginger Russell
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