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Back to the Oils

Updated: Mar 9


My background in the arts is wide-ranging. I was introduced to oil painting very young and it has since remained my creative love. I completed my formal education in architecture and urban planning and enjoyed a career in urban design for many years while still painting in my spare time.


In 2001, I had the very good fortune of meeting Philip Rubinov Jacobson who invited me to Europe to study old master’s painting techniques. Over the next two years, I returned to Europe to study again with Philip, and also with Michael Fuchs, Brigid Marlin and Ernst Fuchs. My time in Europe connected me to this

amazing web of visionary artists from all over the world and in addition, afforded me opportunities to exhibit internationally. After many exciting years meeting, traveling, and exhibiting, I put my fine art practice aside to raise and home-educate my four children, three of whom have special needs.


My reemergence into the art world started in December 2019 with a series of synchronistic events; an art center opened in the town where I live, I became a part of a huge community of local artists, and a simple need for a birthday present for a very dear friend. These events reawakened that artist part of me that I had put aside so many years ago.

The Alice and the Caterpillar painting was the birthday present. It was the spark that set the creative juices flowing! After I finished it, I gave myself a challenge to create a piece a day over winter break. Using Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, my favorite book of all time, and Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations as inspiration, I created 23 pieces using wet-on-wet watercolor technique and colored pencil. Those 23 pieces became my Playing in Wonderland series.


The whole series was created at night, after the kids were in bed, at a little table in my bedroom. After a month of painting at a little table, I decided that is was time to set up my studio again and dive back into my fine art painting practice. Though before that could happen, I had two obstacles that I needed to overcome - the first was that I needed an alternative to traditional oil paints, the second was, I wondered if I could still paint? It had been over fifteen years!


The first obstacle was pretty easy to overcome. My daughter has severe chemical allergies and I knew it wasn’t safe to have heavy solvents in the house so, after some research, I found water soluble oils. I was a little trepidatious making the switch from traditional oils to water soluble oils. They were still oils, sure, but they felt different and the pigments were different. In addition, all of the mediums and solvents were different too. But the only way to find out if I could still paint was to paint. I took a deep breath and started.


The first oil painting I did was The Eyeball Lady. She is a reoccurring character in my paintings as a visual representation of my inner eye. She is a self-portrait, sort of speak, as her eye is literally a portrait of my eye. This particular painting of her is a study for a much larger painting that is still waiting to be completed. Starting with her brought up a lot of emotions for me. The larger painting that she is a part of is the last piece I was working on before my oldest was born. I was afraid to go into that larger piece because I didn’t want to mess it up. So, I decided to just paint her as a test. For many months I had to face her staring back at me – my new-self staring at my old-self. And as she started to come alive, it was as if she were saying, “where have you been? I’m so glad to see you again”. I made a major discovery painting The Eyeball Lady, not only could I still paint but my level of artistry had increased ten-fold lying dormant those 15 years! Strange, but welcomed.

Feeling that I had my groove back but not quite ready to dive into a new work yet, I pulled out two unfinished works from the early 2000’s - Kuenberg Niche and Scrying. I started Kuenberg Niche the third time I visited Austria. I was staying at the Kuenberg Castle while I was studying with Ernst Fuchs. The painting is quite literally that statue, in a niche, in the side of the castle. I finished the underpainting in

Europe and I hadn’t touched it again until now. Scrying's beginning was an old drawing that laid in a drawer for many, many years. In its painting form it is an experimentation of techniques I wanted to get familiar with again. Certain images like the portal, the bubbles, and of course the eyeball lady, are imagery that repeat in many of my paintings and are part of my personal iconography. It's weird, a lot of color, and a lot of fun. I'm so happy to see this image come to its full fruition. It felt so incredible to finish these three pieces!


2020 was shaping up to be an amazing year, I had a new founded artist community around me, I was getting paid for teaching art, I was showing my art again, and I was back in the studio painting. It was a sweet three months.


By the end of March 2020, the COVID pandemic lock-down brought all of that to a screeching halt. All except my studio practice. In this one sense, lock-down was a blessing. Without all of the running around for kid’s extracurricular activities and their doctor’s visits being conducted over tele-health, I gained a lot of studio time. Improprieties 2020 was started during-lock down and is my first new oil painting. It’s a dark piece that reflects a dark time. Not only was COVID raging but there was so much civil unrest, political divisiveness, fear, and down-right inappropriate behavior happening everywhere from the grocery store to social media. It felt to me as if the whole world had gone mad. Folks were either looking on at the whole menagerie with horror, completely ambivalent and self-involved, or were in your face mad as hell. This harsh, ugly, part of humanity that the pandemic had brought to a head, I needed to purge from myself and make beautiful. It was a very difficult piece to paint that stretched my limits both technically and psychologically. It’s taken me almost two years to finish. Getting this particular piece onto canvas has been both cathartic and healing.


2020 ended with the world still unsteady but one thing I knew for sure – I had released the creative muse from the bottle and there was no stuffing her back in.


The reemergence had only just begun…


 

This is the first post of a six part series sharing the body of of work I have created over the last two years and my journey leading up to my solo show:

REEMERGENCE

Opening April 8, 2022

Assemblage Contemporary Craftsman Gallery

306 S. Main Street, Suite 106

Buda, Texas

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