QUINCY – His colourful, kindhearted gifts began with a single digital photo he took with his phone in 2019 of four pastel houses on the island of St. George’s in Bermuda.
Paul DeMelin, a self-taught artist, and his wife Elena were on vacation. They took a boat from their cruise ship to St. George’s and walked the streets, mesmerized by the pink, blue, mint green and yellow colors that define the city.
He took hundreds of photos, he said, “like most people would.”
Still working as a mail clerk for the US Postal Service in South Boston, DeMelin put the photos aside at home. The pandemic came; life got even busier. Then one night in 2021, he sat down at a table in his home in Quincy, pulled out the Bermuda photos, pulled out his iPad and thought, “I’m going to make something out of this.”
For eight years, DeMelin has been creating digital drawings, teaching himself through online tutorials and computer programs that offer dozens of visual options, from line art to oil painting techniques.
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For this project he chose a single photo. It showed four houses – blue, pink, orange and beige – where Chapel Lane crosses Clarence Street in St George’s.
“I loved all the different houses, the pastel colors, the tree in the middle,” he said.
The photo became his most detailed image and longest project to date. It took six weeks to complete and 72 hours of drawing.
“I drew for about two hours, maybe four or five times a week, totaling over 85,000 brushstrokes,” he said.
After completing the drawing, he vowed that if he ever returned to Bermuda, “the people who live in the houses made in my image will receive a print of my artwork”.
Then came his retirement on March 18, 2022 and plans to travel back to Bermuda.
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“On July 17th, after a cruise from Boston, an hour-long boat ride to St. George’s, a stroll down a few streets, and a few knocks on the doors of the very houses in my picture, I was able to make complete strangers extremely happy!” he said.
He met two of the four people who owned the houses in his drawing. Both the woman, Wendy, and the man were delighted when he gave them copies of his picture. Wendy promised to give a copy to the new owner of the third blue house that was unoccupied. The fourth homeowner was shy but also gratefully accepted her picture.
“I can’t describe the feeling of making complete strangers so happy with a personal gift,” DeMelin said. “It’s been the best part of my journey, the most satisfying part. To do something on this scale with the most difficult image I’ve ever created, to think about taking all this time for someone you’ve never met.. .”
Like many others who work regular day jobs, DeMelin nurtured his other talents — the ability to draw and work with computers — nights and weekends. He began drawing as a child in the late 1960s, continued at Somerville High School in 1978, and graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1983 with a degree in professional music. He sang in bands, married in 1985, got a post office job in 1987, moved to Quincy and raised a son, Mark, 33, and a daughter, Rachel, 27.
A long-time Boston Bruins fan, he has made detailed drawings of his heroes and is always looking for new ideas. His wife took a picture of Griffey, her son’s Labradoodle, standing by the kitchen sink, and Paul created a computer image of the dog brandishing a bat amid the colors and logo of the Red Sox.
“It was funny how Griffey was standing at the counter and kind of looking like he was swinging a bat,” he said. “I get a lot of my ideas here. I see something that others wouldn’t waste time on and create something.
“My whole family will tell you, once I have an idea, I’m determined to see it through.”
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In memory of Peter Fontana Sr.
Fun loving, hardworking Peter Fontana Sr. from Weymouth almost made it to his 100th birthday tomorrow 3rd August but sadly died at home in May after receiving hospice care.
He will be greatly missed by many including Frances Hale and Rudy Clerico who volunteered with him on the Meals on Wheels program in South Weymouth for over 25 years, and Yvonne Clerico. A World War II veteran who served in the US Army Air Corps showed up every morning to help pack meals up until this year. I had a lively, humorous and candid interview with him in 2020. Thank you Peter for all your services.
Reach Sue Scheible at email@example.com
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