I vividly recall taking my first art class, at the age of 9 years, and the preparatory visit to Pearl art supply in Columbia, MD. I can still remember the soft velvety bristles of the white sable brushes, and the magic of picture making for the first time, as pencil, paints and paper combined to create something new out of raw materials. In this case, it was the portrait of a sea gull. The burning desire to create art has never left me, and in fact, it has grown stronger every year. Louis Nizer said: “A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman, but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.” I strive to use all three aspects of myself as I compose paintings which are thought provoking to viewers. I use symbols such as hearts, skeletons, and houses, etc., to illustrate the human condition, through the lens of psychological theories of by theorists such as: Carl Jung, Erik Erikson, and Sigmund Freud, and expressed in poetry and song lyrics.
My current art work is a continuation of my senior thesis for the Advanced Studio class, which I took at Mc Daniel College as part of my baccalaureate degree in art. This thesis project featured self-portraits in oil, and was inspired by Sting’s album, Mercury Falling, which explores the human condition. One of my strongest influences in my studio practice of narrative storytelling and figure work is my painting teacher and mentor, Steve Pearson, who teaches art and interdisciplinary subjects at Mc Daniel College. He taught me how to make art work that mattered to me, by using a sketchbook of artwork that inspires, to distill the works of other artists and find my artistic voice within that context.
However, in other respects, my new series is also a departure from these traditional oil paintings. In my new works, I have incorporated mixed media and text. These texts are incorporated in my paintings to help the view draw connections between the emotional content in my art and the written word. For example, texts from selected poems or songs, such as the writings of by Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and T.S. Elliot, Dylan Thomas, and Thomas Hardy, Mary Oliver, etc., are included in my paintings to give viewers clues about the content of my work. Other influences include: the song lyrics of Sting, and other musicians, and psychological theories. Although my artwork is loosely informed by many artists, I strive to maintain my own style. These artists include: Salvador Dali, Alice Neel, Frida Khalo, Vermeer, Vincent Van Goh, Jaime Wyeth, and Elizabeth Sr. Hillaire. Additionally, some art influences that inform the concept of narrative story telling are surrealism and contemporary realism, also have inspired my studio practice.
To create my paintings, I use a variety of both traditional art supplies and media, such as: oil paints, acrylic paints, paint brushes, and pencils. On the other hand, I also incorporate graphic design with the use of Adobe Photoshop to create photo collages with text as references for my paintings. In my work, the self-portrait plays a central role in these works as a main character interacting with the physical world around her, although occasionally other actors are featured. Surfaces for these works include: canvases and masonite boards. I have added three dimensions by adding foam core, cardboard and glue, used collage techniques or used the inherent qualities of oil and acrylic paint to create the illusion of depth using value and color, which I achieve with impasto or thin glaze techniques. Other important skills include: researching visuals and poetry to explore themes, and creating systems to guide my projects such as: keeping a sketchbook of art that inspires, and using mind maps to organize my thoughts.