Bare trees of winter inspire Montville artist

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 1:30pm

    MONTVILLE—Artist Felicia Cinquegrana lives in the deep woods of Montville, but she doesn’t even need to venture outside for inspiration. Trees are all around—her house, her studio, and in her art.

    Her hand-engraved jewelry and paintings are only part of her collection, but they all share the same quality: A bare etching of a tree, its branches in stark movement, giving the impression of reaching out.

    “My husband and I moved to Montville, Maine, from Rhode Island five years ago,” she said.

    With master’s degree in art education and a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture, she and her husband, who works as a wooden boatbuilder,  have even bigger plans than being artists.

    “Our original intention was to come up here to start an art camp for at-risk kids,” she said. “We’re currently building our own house off the grid, a straw bale timberframe and still working on it, so my studio is currently in the living room. But eventually I’ll have my own studio and educational studios on our land.”

    Cinquegrana downplays it, but turns out, both she and her husband John Puckett, were featured last winter on a “Building off the grid” episode on

    While she supports herself as an artist, the developing plan is to eventually offer the public classes in boat building, art, and wilderness immersion.

    “We’re really interested in teaching kids any process or activity that requires them to work with their hands, to build anything and to problem solve with critical and creative thinking,” she said.

    Her designs on sterling silver cuffs, earring and pendants are all hand engraved free form using a flex shaft with diamond tip. Then, they’re polished with a patina.

    “It’s almost like scrimshaw,” she said.

    Her ink paintings are all on birch, and all of the frames are made scraps from the boats her husband builds.

    The design of her particular trees always alters slightly, but originated from a giant triptych she’d worked on for six months.

    “I’ve always drawn trees since I was a little kid,” she said. “I climbed trees. They just comforted me, And about 10 years ago this particular design came to me. My dad was sick, and I just worked on this piece in this free flow state without having to overthink it. It was just for myself. It was such a meditation for me and then I just started making them for others.”

    Though her artwork leans toward a Japanese theme, she said it’s not deliberate.

    “When I lived in Chicago in school, I’d go to museums on lunch break into these wings and stare at this ancient Japanese art, and I think I unintentionally put that into my work. The more I work on them, the more they evolve into this figurative flow. They’re not necessarily ornate, but people find a calmness in them.”

    To learn about their forthcoming camp visit: Ohana Roots Traditional Craft and Wilderness Camp.

    To learn more about her artwork, visit Felicia Grace Designs or see her in person at United Farmers Market in Belfast every Saturday.

    Kay Stephens can be reached at