I am an intuitive abstract artist and work in three mediums - acrylic, mixed media and encaustic. As an intuitive artist, I begin with no preconceived idea and I play around with lines, asemic writing, areas of color and constantly turn the canvas 45 degrees to work on different areas. By painting this way, I do not become “wedded” to an idea, but let things evolve in abstract. At some point, after looking at the canvas from all four directions, something starts to take shape for me and I will develop the painting from there, taking things out, adding other things. I often leave a suggestion of footprints or bridges - different ways that connect the parts of the painting.
Mixed media is usually not quite as unstructured. I can add elements to suggest a landscape or strictly use balance and color to create abstract patterns. I use hand-painted papers and other items such as drywall tape, string, gesso, and even strings made from hot glue.
Encaustic paintings are done with a melted beeswax/damar combination maintained at 200 degrees. Encaustic paintings are intriguing because of the layering and fusing of the wax, giving a luminosity unachievable with other mediums. I embed a lot of different elements into encaustic paintings: hand-painted papers, old letters, or any natural fiber.
I find painting with knife in oils to be a very expressive, powerful and enjoyable experience. The unique marks and texture left with knife help me produce bold, clean color and mysterious, dramatic effects. I enjoy the three-dimensional and sculptural quality. And there is a certain delightful surprise I experience with each knife stroke — you never know for certain just exactly what is going to be deposited by the knife on the canvas!
Painting with a knife is a very natural, intuitive technique. I picked up a knife and started doing “what felt right.” I want to create an emotion and impression, something more powerful than just the literal. I want “to deepen the mystery” ... allow the viewer to engage and “fill in the blanks.”
For the first art competition I entered, I submitted a knife painting from a photo I had taken in Savannah of the interior of a coffee bar. I had no idea if I had any talent, and whether I was “painting the right way” or not. I almost fainted when the judge announced I won first place by stating, “I love, love, love this painting!”
I’ve been painting regularly since I retired — about ten years. I continue to go to a class with Sidney Sinclair, a local artist. Sometimes I compare painting to learning to play the piano — there are skills that you can learn, but it takes practice, practice, practice. Since my retirement, I also have taken many workshops to study with different artists to hone my skills.
I wanted to learn to paint in a more impressionist style, so I bought books by Kevin Macpherson, and painted my way through those books. Copying a master’s paintings is one of the oldest techniques in art and helpful because he had already solved the problems — where to put highlights, shadows, even color choices.
Nancy Bush has been the most influential in the techniques I use. She is an internationally renowned artist living in Fredericksburg. She introduced me to a style of painting called Tonalism - a style popular in the 1880s when American artists began to paint landscapes with colored atmosphere or mist. These paintings were generally of a simplified subject matter, were misty or vaporous, and quiet and minimal. They evoked emotions rather than reality.
I have gradually incorporated this method into my own voice using the color of warmer hues, evoking a peaceful mood. I believe artists develop a recognizable style; however, I occasionally paint a bright, impressionistic painting.