Mixed Media Art
Montgomery County, Alabama
"My art education began in childhood, as with most artists. Now, this was not in any formal manner, as there were simply no resources for “real” art lessons. Instead, I picked up every book I could find that contained an illustration and replicated it as closely as I possibly could. (I could have had a booming career in art forgery)
World Book Encyclopedia, ca. 1956, was a great resource for images of animals. I still have two pastels of hunting dogs I ‘copied’ while in the third grade. (I sure hope I am not arrested for the plagiarism I committed doing a 4-H project.)
Wesley Dennis - premier illustrator for Marguirite Henry - was a great favorite, in no small part because every picture included horses. I, as all preteen girls do, loved horses.
At G.W. Carver High School, I began to get “official” tutelage and encouragement from an actual teacher, John Feagin. He was a wonderful, nurturing man who helped me realize that my abilities and vision were special and unique. He also unapologetically made off with a large macramé hanging I created. I was never sure if I should be irritated or flattered, although I eventually settled on flattered. I hope he still has it and looks upon it fondly (Although larceny should generally not be rewarded, I think an exception should be made).
At AUM, years later, my instructors helped me realize the visions I held in my heart and head by learning technique, an absolutely vital skill for any artist. You cannot break the rules if you do not first know what they are. Professors Rick Mills and Sue Jensen, both very inspirational to me, gave me the ultimate compliment - exchanging works of art with me. It probably dangerously inflated my ego.
Through an obsession with Catherine the Great, probably the most visionary and capable woman of all time, an intense fascination with Russian spiritual art was born. This passion included Russian fairy tales, whose formal composition and symbolism shouted at me where realism only whispered. The dreaded Art History class actually proved its worth (and the 3rd mortgage I had to take out for the books). I began to make a connection between Arabic and Celtic spiritual art to Russian medieval art and their pictorial representation of language. From that amalgamation of cultures, my personal version of art history pressed onward to include from the 1800s the fiercely sensuous, intense, and often violent subjects of Eugene Delacroix. Art Nouveau peeked over the horizon, perhaps being influenced by Delacroix, and its sinuous, organic lines defined the vibrant colors and shapes of the natural world around us. These historical movements of symbolism, composition, and intensity defined my work.
The largest painting in this series, Gaia, had lived in my head for a good while before I was skilled enough to put her on paper. The composition is, naturally, based on Russian religious iconography and the sensuous lines and bright organic palette of Art Nouveau. So, too, this cruder composition and execution are purposeful, with the intent of bringing a sense of spiritual reverence to the subject.
As always in nature - there is darkness hidden behind the light. Bumblebees bumble lazily from flower to flower while bell-bottoms of pollen cling to their legs, but there is also the warning of violence possessed in its sting. Pitcher plants, bright and beautiful and alien, trick prey into a nightmare of slow digestion and death. As Gaia and the other Green Ladies represent life and the environment, they also contain its darkness. The flip side of life is always death.
My work as a whole almost always has that one dark element. However, and hopefully, they also possess a touch of whimsy - the sense of humor one finds in life and in nature.
Art is a comfort for me, an expression of what is within without the need for speech. Because sometimes, words are just not enough." ~ Lisa Lenox