Innate Ability

Seventeen-year-old Mason D’Aleo has a legacy of artistry behind her and a bright future of creativity ahead of her

Written by Alison Pappas  |  Photography by Grant L. Gursky

Artistry and talent certainly run deep in local high-schooler Mason D’Aleo’s family tree. Her mother, Pam Mason, is an accomplished painter and muralist who studied at Gettysburg College and The Maryland Institute College of Art. Her father, Leo D’Aleo, is a chef and self-taught painter. Extending back a generation, her paternal grandfather, a former architect and artist, drew the Leaning Tower of Pisa design on Lombardi Trattoria’s infamous pizza box.

With these impressively creative genes, it’s no surprise that Mason started exploring art at a very early age. In fact, there is a photograph of her as a toddler intensely fingerpainting that is proudly on display in her home studio. While she began appreciating art very early on, Mason credits a visit to New York City as a child with truly igniting her passion.

“I was on a trip with my dad, and I remember being so impressed with the work in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I just knew at that moment that art was something I really wanted to pursue,” expressed Mason.

Now 17 years old, Mason has evolved into a skilled painter with a primary focus on realism. Her colorful work is currently available for purchase in high-end Berlin storefronts, such as Stuarts’ Antiques and Patty Jeans Boutique. She’s also had her paintings showcased at the Berlin Art Stroll and the Art League of Ocean City.

A true Gen-Z, Mason has networked and sold a lot of her work through social media. 

“I typically post an original painting after I’ve completed it on Facebook and Instagram, and people can respond to claim it and purchase it. I also sell prints copies,” shared Mason.

Mason’s main art studio is located on the bottom floor of her mother’s stunning Ocean City residence, which was featured on the 2019 Sand Castle Home Tour. The studio’s tall, blue walls are lined with Mason’s detailed, lively artwork. A substantial circular mirror allows plenty of natural light to seep in, and offers a picturesque bay view.

While painting, Mason often finds inspiration from music. 

“A lot of times, I like listening to alternative music, like Nirvana or Morrissey, while I’m painting. Other times, I’ll listen to lo-fi beats or underground sound clouds,” shared Mason.

As for deciding what she wants to paint next, well, that really depends. Many of the subjects of her paintings are things that caught her eye in person and immediately sparked a desire for her to paint. She’s also had friends and family make suggestions for pieces. Mason really enjoyed painting one suggestion in particular: a harlequin tusk fish, due to the fish’s colorful striped body and striking blue teeth.

Mason is currently in her final year of high school, and she is completing her education online through The Keystone School. 

“I enjoy Keystone because, in addition to the core curriculum, I’ve been able to study animation. I’ve taken what I’ve learned to create my own short animations,” shared Mason.

Mason has been accepted to Flagler College, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Ringling College of Art and Design — all of which are southern schools with reputable art programs. She plans to pursue her art studies and collaborate with other young artists at whichever school she decides to attend.  

Mason also plans to continue selling her work and extend her reach by building an Etsy profile. CS

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