Paul Arsenault
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Metal Sketches tm

For years, Paul would flip through his sketch books and smile.  They contained highly rendered images, quirky contour drawings and quick scribbles of unknowing models.  Crossed out failures outnumbered successes.  There was always a nagging disappointment that these images were tucked away in an intimate book that was rarely exposed to viewers other than Paul himself.

In early 2009 Paul created a proto-type of Bossa Nova Guy.  The original sketch was magnified 10-fold by hand then painstakingly cut out of birch wood, pieced together, and painted black.   

The result brought an intimate sketch to the viewer as a larger-than-life 3-dimensional sculpture.  Since the first proto-type the process has been refined and the pieces are now created from steel. Paul finds steel a more creative outlet which allows for intricate designs and delicate lines while being extremely durable.

Metal Sketches are hung directly onto a wall through a series of metal dowels that leave a 2-inch gap between wall and sculpture.  The resulting space creates a 4th dimension of shadow play between the light, sculpture, and wall.  A self-developed process allows scaled versions of each metal sketch with versions editioned in runs of 20.

Paul’s metal sketches have been well received in businesses, homes and galleries throughout the world as well as the prestigious Mass Art yearly benefit show.


The Heteroclite series of paintings started as a sociological exploration of how humans protect and project themselves in society. Masks protect almost all of Paul’s Heteroclite paintings. The mask is the oldest and simplest form of protection and projection. It was a natural progression given Paul’s tendency towards painting expressive facial features as shown in his earlier work.

Spider Catcher, the first in the series, developed from the artists experience of saving a spider in his home. A simple and benevolent act that anyone could (or wouldn’t) perform, but which society would never acknowledge. If that moment was taken from time and exposed, what would it look like? The series continued as a number of portrait paintings based on curious or deviant human actions. It has evolved into more complex sociological behavior in dynamic settings, most with multiple actors.

A continuing theme called “Going Feral” portrays the artist in his own Heteroclite state as he wistfully walks away from society into the wilds of the Badlands.

Paul is also working on a subway series investigating the quirks and intricacies of Bostonians during their daily commute. The first in the series, The Commute depicts a typical morning on Boston’s transit system. 


Paul tries to blur the edge between realism and abstraction. Always search-ing for the point where a single brush stroke confuses the image, rendering it unidentifiable.

Deconstructions attack the concept from a different direction. Rather than starting with figure and form, Paul starts with color and marks.

The same image, usually done from a real-life sketch in near darkness, is re-peated multiple times. Each iteration reveals pieces of the original sketch, hopefully pulling the image closer to a recognizable state.  

My Events

Metal Sketches at The Geldart
Repeats every day until Sat Apr 29 2017.
15 Apr 2017 - 11:00
Metal Sketches at The Geldart
Metal Sketches at The Geldart


Looking for studio space in Cambridge
Looking for studio workspace.
Looking for studio space in Cambridge

oil painting, pencil & charcoal sketches, Metal sculpture, moving image
I take coloured dirt and smudge it on woven cotton with a stick and think it's the greatest thing to do in the world.
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Anchored in painting, my work is strongly influenced by the narratives of daily life. I am fascinated by human interaction and how these interactions, combined with the notions of human identity, community and nonconformity, contribute to the evolution of society.  My paintings are an investigation of curious, often overlooked social circumstances, utilized as an attempt to gain a more personal understanding of the human experience.  The use of humor, bold colors, and quirky imagery softens the work, allowing an easier visual approach to difficult subjects.

My current work investigates American gun culture in an attempt to understand how we move forward without a national dialogue after each consecutive mass shooting.