Painting with Precision

Sami Mancini has mastered the art of watercolor. Once a hobby, the popularity of her work soared on social media, leading to a business with big-name clients

Written by Alison Pappas  |  Portrait by Grant L. Gursky

In many projects — such as baking or gardening — adding a few extra drops of water does not typically have any impact on the final product. In watercolor art, however, even a minuscule change in the amount of water applied has the potential to completely transform a piece. This is why precision is a key skill needed to fully excel in this art form.

Over time, local artist Sami Mancini has mastered the art of watercolor. As a student at Worcester Preparatory School, she found herself spending almost every minute of spare time doodling and sketching in the school’s art room. She then went on to minor in fine arts at Salisbury University. While her collegiate studies fine-tuned her natural artistic abilities, it was a study-abroad experience in Spain — especially a visit to Pablo Picasso’s home — that she credits with truly igniting her passion for painting. While she isn’t limited to just one art medium, Sami considers watercolors to be her specialty.

“I enjoy how you can control the colors and vibrancy of the piece with the amount of water, and my light and airy style is enhanced through my use of it. Watercolor is the perfect medium, it’s challenging, playful and has a mind of its own,” shared Sami.

After graduating, Sami resettled on the Shore and worked full-time as a real estate agent. 

“Having been born and raised here, I know how special raising a family on the Shore will be. My husband, Chris, and I are both from this area, and we are so beyond fortunate to be able to call this place home. While we have seen the growth occur over the past years, it no doubt continues to maintain its small-town feel, and locals continue to drive the success of businesses and community overall,” she expressed. 

As Sami pursued her real estate career, she made sure to find time to devote to painting, and she sought out opportunities to combine these two passions whenever possible. 

“I posted a photo on social media of a watercolor painting I did of my client’s new home as a closing gift. Other agents and family friends started to reach out to ask if I would paint watercolors for them,” she shared.

That initial social media post quickly evolved Sami’s hobby into a side business. Her most popular commissions are often home portraits, but she also creates patterned designs, pet paintings and other customized requests.

Now a mother of a 2-year-old son with another baby boy expected soon, Sami receives such an inflow of commissions that her calendar is often booked up two to three months in advance.

In addition to a slew of local clients, Sami has received commission requests from people across the country, and she has also had commercial businesses — including local businesses like Pack da Bowl and Barn 34 — reach out to her for licensing pieces and design opportunities. A significant milestone came in the spring of 2021, when La Croix — a leading, nationwide carbonated-water retailer — contacted Sami to let her know that not only were they admirers of her work; they were also interested in commissioning her to create several custom watercolors designs for their global “Fizz Factory” Christmas campaign.

SIGN LANGUAGE: As a real estate agent, Sami painted the exterior of a home she sold and gifted it to her client — opening new doors of opportunity for the local artist.

“When La Croix initially approached me on the first piece, I was excited because everything from their style to the use of color in their designs and themes fit my style and how I like to create my work. It was surreal working for a company whose products you see every day on the shelves in stores,” Sami said.

La Croix was so impressed with Sami’s designs for their “Fizzy Factory” campaign that they have since reached out to her for roughly a half-dozen additional commissions.

In addition to La Croix, other noteworthy commissions Sami has received include a feature in House & Garden magazine, a custom map and other renderings for Bayside at Fenwick, as well as personalized designs for the renowned Capt Hirams Resort in Sebastian, FL.

As Sami looks toward the future of her business, she plans to diversify her portfolio by focusing on creating printable pieces for goods such as greeting cards, wallpaper, gift wrapping, stationery, ornaments and more. She’d also like to expand her work to cover other subjects, such as garden and floral pieces. CS