Q&A with the artist (part 1)

Recently, someone asked to interview me for a project of theirs, and I considered how some artist appear to others as aloof or distance.  There’s often a lot going on in our minds (intellectually and emotional).  I’d take a moment here in my blog to share where I am coming from when I make my work. Below are some of the questions he asked.

Were you influenced by someone special (other artist(s), teachers, a family member, friend, etc.)?
My father, Allen Steely, has always been interested in photography as a hobby and he influenced me by seeing and pointing out the beauty in the world around me.  In college, my painting professor, Kevin Sparks, greatly influenced how I look at painting and communicate through metaphor.  I have been influenced by a variety of great artists from the past including and not limited to the following: Caspar David Friedrich, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Kathe Kollwitz, Lucian Freud.   Recently I have been influenced by local Indiana artists Caroline Mecklin and Jim Gerard.

What do you generally try to achieve with your art?
Through painting and drawing, I attempt to create subtle metaphors layer by layer in order that I might achieve a greater understanding of the natural world.  I work with natural objects juxtaposed with transitions in time. I try to walk the line between abstraction and realism and create a composition that speaks to a viewer on several levels.

What were you trying to communicate with the piece Black & White Herd?
The current work begins with butterflies as a reference point and then takes flight into an examination of speed, pattern, and the imagination.

Do you feel you were successful?
Yes, to some extent.  I am always looking ways to improve, and better visually present, and communicate.

What medium or media do you prefer and why?
I prefer oils, because I am interested in how the process parallels my thought process.  Also, I like the way that the finished oil painting looks.  I enjoy the depth and variation of colors, tones, and light.  I recently have been interested in using watercolor focusing on the transparency of the colors.  I also enjoy working in black and white charcoal, conte, and digital photography.

How would you describe your artistic process?
For this past series:  I carefully consider my subject matter and different implications that the viewer might generate when they encounter the subject matter.  Then I decide on a composition that is dynamic.  I pick a canvas shape and size that will enhance the dynamic, moving, living nature of the piece.  Then, I begin to block out the basic shapes of the butterfly wings so that they open or close.  I decide which wings I want to hide during the opening and closing process.  I begin by looking at an actual butterfly (or an image I took with my camera (I prefer not to use the camera, but with butterflies, I sometimes have to in order to figure out the patterns on the wings).  Then I put away the picture and develop the painting layer by layer adding a light source with shadows, and developing the colors so that the painting is unified.  I try to keep the initial ideas of time, motion, life, struggle, overcoming, etc. in front of me during the process so that I do not become lost in the process.

Has your art changed substantially during your career? If so, how?
The unifying theme of my major series has been animation and an interest in the metaphysical ideas of speed and time as seen in joints of bones, flowers, and butterflies.  (I call my paintings “dynamic still life”) As I move ahead, I intend to keep that theme, but am open to other ideas as I grow as an artist.

If you have found this post valuable, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest.

A note about the author

is a visual artist based in Indianapolis. She is drawn to natural, organic objects and portrays them with oil on textured surfaces. Often, she presents her subject in dynamic still life with a shift of time through movement or growth-decay.