By Susan Baldani
When people think about where to find great art and artists, places like New York City, Philadelphia, and of course the grand cities of Europe quickly come to mind. However, many highly talented artists live right here in our surrounding communities. One of these LOCAL artists is Ralph Garafola, who has been practicing his craft for most of his life. Ralph’s paintings have graced the cover of The Showcase Magazine several times in the past years.
Ralph is originally from New York, and has been residing in Warren, NJ, for 40 years. He started out as a draftsman and became an illustrator, and in the evenings studied drawing at The Alliance Art School (Educational Alliance) in lower Manhattan. Soon after, though, he was drafted into the Korea War.
While stationed in Korea, he was an Army Combat Photographer MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) and a draftsman. From there, he went on to graduate from the Photography School at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. Then, once back in NY, he studied at the Art Students League of New York under Frank J. Reilly, who was also the Commissioner of Art for New York City. To broaden his education, Ralph also traveled to the southern United States, Italy, England and France to study the works of the Old Masters and find new inspiration for his future paintings.
When many of us look at a painting, we often don’t think of the hard work and training that went into creating it. We just enjoy it for its beauty. However, successful artists devote a lot of time learning and improving their technique, and never stop striving to make it better. Ralph is one of these artists. He works in both oil and watercolor, and considers his style one of contemporary realism. He paints portraits, landscapes, seascapes, still life and animals, wild and domestic. As he states, “All my paintings are portraits. Whether my subject is a person, landscape, seascape, still life or pet, my approach is to realistically portray my subject in its natural environment. It puts the viewer inside the painting.”
He has also authored two books. The first one, Frank J. Reilly – The Elements of Painting, explains what he was taught by his mentor, and what every painter needs to know. His second book, Frank J. Reilly – Outdoor Painting, is due out this year.
Ralph had also designed and directed the construction of the 911 memorial in front of the Warren Town Municipal Building. He belongs to many art associations and has garnered many awards, too numerous to mention here. There are multiple galleries, exhibits, and online sites where you can view his paintings.
Not one to slow down, Ralph started teaching in his 70s at the duCret School of Art, Plainfield, New Jersey, and because he spends winters in Florida, at the Florida at the Sarasota Art Center, Longboat Key - Ringling College of Art and Design, the Art Center Manatee and Art Expressions by the Bay in Sarasota. In addition, he also tutors private students.
To find out more about Ralph Garafola, or to see some of his extraordinary art work, commission a painting, or sign up for classes, please go to
Susan Baldani has a MA in Education and a BA in Psychology. She enjoys writing and in addition to writing articles on small town life, is currently working on her second book. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.mywritingwall.com.