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Life imitates art for Stolarz

Roberta Coni, left, meets with Shawn Stolarz at her May art show in London, England. Photo by Shawn Stolarz

Everyone dreams about meeting their idol. For Marbleheader and high school artist Shawn Stolarz, a simple social media message turned that dream into a reality.

At the end of May, he flew overseas to meet Italian artist Roberta Coni and attend one of her art shows in London. He started following Coni’s work roughly four years ago when he saw one of her paintings during a trip to Montreal.

He enjoyed her work so much that he reached out to her through Instagram. The two engaged in a lengthy back-and-forth, and she invited him out to the show, which was inspired by Italian operas.

“It was amazing meeting her after talking to her for so long,” he said. “It was a dream come true.”

Stolarz is currently a sophomore at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody. His fascination with art, specifically painting, dates back to when he was in the fifth grade and began watching YouTube tutorials on how to draw. 

“Once it was probably a year after that, I began teaching myself how to paint, and then I began taking classes and continuing to practice,” Stolarz said. 

Many YouTube videos and drawing sessions later, that practice has paid off for Stolarz.

He has won multiple awards, including those from Scholastic, the Newburyport Arts Association for portraiture painting, and his high school’s art show.

Whenever he has any down time, he is oil painting or drawing.

Stolarz said that he has “always been very creative” and draws a lot of his inspiration for his work from the human body.

“The beauty of the human figure inspires me a lot,” he said. “I love painting people and finding the beauty in their features. I typically enjoy painting this beauty on large canvases to give the work a grand sense.”

On Monday, he finished painting an electric box in Swampscott that was influenced by fine china, Dutch dishware, and traditional Turkish pottery.

“I included a face on the back of it in which floral designs blended into it,” Stolarz said. “It was kind of influenced by my style too.”

In addition to all he has accomplished in his young career, Stolarz is co-chair of the Youth Art Committee, an initiative started by the Marblehead Arts Association with the focus of helping kids make use of the Cushman Gallery for Young Artists and educating them about the business of art. 

In the future, Stolarz said that he hopes to “continue to evolve as an artist, communicating the human experience — from my small perspective — as best I can.”

Stolarz currently takes classes with Debra Highberger at Acorn Gallery School of Art. This summer, he will continue to work in his at-home studio space. After graduating from Bishop Fenwick, he hopes to pursue art in college.