By Liz Premo
Atlantic News, Thursday, September 23, 2004
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON — "People want to buy them all the time," grins 84-year-old Harold Lapointe, referring to the vast collection of paintings he has produced since retiring at age 62.
Sorry, art lovers, they're not for sale. But a stunning selection of them is currently on exhibit upon the walls of the Hampton town office building on Winnacunnet Road.
This is the fourth year the amiable — and talented — octogenarian has shared his wonderful work with the public. Using a palette of acrylic paints, Lapointe practically brings his wide-range of subjects to life, much to the delight of those who have the pleasure of viewing his annual exhibit.
"We look forward to it every year," says Administrative Assistant Karen Anderson, a big fan of Lapointe's artwork.
Among this year's pieces: A cream, beige and black rendering of Abraham Lincoln's famed memorial statue; a reproduction of a Norman Rockwell painting featuring a little boy and his beagle; a well-worn pair of boots; the Star Spangled Banner unfurled against a blue sky; the Washington memorial; a portrait of the late President Ronald Reagan; an old New England street lined with historic brick buildings.
"They look so real!" comments one art enthusiast of the bricks in that one particular painting.
A native of Greenfield, Massachusetts and a resident of Sarasota, Florida, Lapointe has been a summer resident at Hampton Beach since 1948. His career in commercial art work and eventual retirement in 1982 led to his current hobby. Dedicating "a couple of hours a day" to his craft, Lapointe estimates that he has "possibly around 60" paintings to his credit.
"I never thought I'd do that many," he says, admitting that "as I get older, I seem to want to do more."
Lapointe says he gets his inspiration (and subjects) from image-rich publications such as travel brochures and advertising catalogs.
"They have beautiful pictures," he says, adding that a photo he once saw on the front page of a national newspaper was the source for his painting of an infant.
"Boy, that would be a good picture to paint," Lapointe remembers thinking at the time. His work on an individual painting doesn't stop with the final brush stoke; Lapointe also makes most of the wood frames that surround his artwork, often using such materials as chair rail molding to create them.
Married to his wife Norma for 62 years ("She's been a great wife to me," he says), the couple have two daughters (one a teacher, the other a graphic artist) and two sons (one employed by the United States Postal Service, the other a painter of a different sort — he does houses).
"We have four really great kids," says Lapointe, adding that it will be his children who will ultimately end up being the beneficiaries of his artwork.
For now, he is happy to be sharing his talents with his friends and fellow residents in Hampton — possibly including future exhibits at the Lane Memorial Library.
"I love Hampton," he says. "I think this is a nice home. I really do." For those who enjoy his work, the same might easily be said about Harold Lapointe's very fine art.