Animals have always been a part of my life ever since I was a small child. Growing up I had dogs, a cat, an assortment of mice, zebra finches, parakeets, cockatiels, a rat named Sneakers, and two newts if I remember correctly. My Cockatoo, Angel, is still with me today and will surely outlive me. My husband and I live with chickens and two very muddy horses named Logan and Rommell (yes, I know…we didn’t name him). The animal force is strong within me.
Looking back through my artistic journey I begin to see how animals have played a larger role than I ever realized.
I have always been attracted to what animals represent. I see the freedom of a bird in flight, the power of a horse and especially the personality of chickens. There are mixed feelings whenever I paint from my flock. Love, comic relief, joy, and at the same time sadness because we’ve seen so many come and go. To me, these mixed feelings convey the duality and complexity of animals. There is a preciousness and “untouchability” to these creatures. It’s something we take for granted while we live our very human day to day lives: sitting in traffic, buying groceries, pumping gas…but I digress.
Choosing the right medium is important to portray the personality of the animal and at the same time evoke the emotional response in the viewer. It’s a 2-way street. When I work with colorful acrylics and collage my goal is to spotlight the whimsey and ridiculous of animals. The feeling I am going for is the nostalgic childlike response to seeing an animal up close for the first time. Unconditional love.
My progression into encaustic has led me to a more technique-driven and intuitive way of painting. I allow the medium to help dictate movement in the subject matter while keeping a “loose rein” so to speak. My animals today have evolved into semi-abstracts with understated, monochromatic color. One aspect that this continuing collection portrays is the fleeting moment that we connect with. A bird lifting off in flight, a stretch, a glance and then it’s gone. There is an untouchability in animals and we have to let them go, but we covet the connection and search it out.
I constantly say that “art is a journey”. The transitions between styles, inspirations, techniques, materials, etcetera will always happen. When a breakthrough occurs it’s like a spotlight flips on. I feel that each of my paintings I’ve created has led me to this moment in my career. Perhaps it was the controlled chaos of encaustic that was the missing link, or the confidence to “give up” the high-intensity color, or maybe the subtle message of the animal itself. Whatever the turning point, the spotlight is shining on the path and I am falling down the rabbit hole, freely and with anticipation of what’s to come.