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“Scale is an idea that I’m really drawn to and the idea of going larger and larger is always on my mind.”

The Delicate Craft of Watercolor and its Influence on Wendy Westlake

Wendy Westlake, an abstract painter presently residing in a quaint town in Southern Minnesota, has harbored an ardor for art from a young age. During her formative years, Westlake gravitated towards art classes, continually captivated by the allure of creative expression. Despite her innate passion for the arts, she was often confronted with the pervasive skepticism regarding its financial viability, an assertion that initially tempered her zeal.

In her higher education, Westlake had the opportunity to delve into an array of artistic disciplines, from printmaking to pottery and sculpture, building a robust foundation of knowledge that would become instrumental in her artistic journey. Post marriage, while nurturing her young children, she embarked on a voyage of experimentation with watercolor.

Minnesota, being home to several prominent watercolor organizations, provided an excellent platform for Westlake to immerse herself in this medium. She joined two of these esteemed bodies, thus enhancing her proficiency through classes and workshops. Her time spent in these classes was particularly transformative, cultivating her understanding of design and honing her planning skills with watercolor.

Watercolor painting, as Westlake elucidates, demands careful consideration of the paper’s whiteness. Once pigment graces the virgin white of the cotton paper, it is indelible, thus necessitating meticulous thought about light and dark, especially preserving the paper’s original white.

Westlake ingeniously adapted many of these concepts to her acrylic paintings. She observed that the cotton canvas reacts much like its paper counterpart, imbibing the water-infused pigment stains in a remarkably similar manner. The abstract painter’s journey, marked by her experiences and experiments, has hence resulted in a uniquely profound understanding of her chosen craft.

The Mid Century American Art Movement and Wendy Westlake’s Unique Aesthetic Language

Wendy Westlake spent several years mastering the delicate craft of watercolor painting. The knowledge and techniques gleaned from this period continue to permeate her current acrylic work. She experimented with oils, yet the medium’s demand for patience did not align with Westlake’s vivacious creative pace.

Westlake harbors a deep admiration for the Mid Century American art movement. Her artistic taste gravitates towards an intriguing amalgamation of shapes and color, neither wholly organic nor geometric. Her unique aesthetic language carves out a realm that exists as a hybrid of the two. It can be discerned that the concept of layering and the use of transparency represent potent elements within her artistic repertoire.

The oeuvres of distinguished artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Conrad Marca-Relli, Robert Motherwell, and Barbara Hepworth, serve as significant sources of inspiration for Westlake. Their influence resonates through her work, shaping the individuality and complexity that define Westlake’s unique artistic voice.

Embracing Artistic Passion: Wendy Westlake’s Journey of Self-Discovery

Wendy Westlake embarked upon her artistic journey relatively late in life. This decision was driven by a deep-rooted love for art that had been present within her since her youth, though she had initially been hesitant to follow a career path that seemed fraught with uncertainty. However, a familial tragedy served as a poignant reminder of life’s fleeting nature, and this prompted Westlake to reassess her priorities and nurture her artistic passion.

In 2016, she embraced this newfound commitment and leased a space in Rochester, MN. This space served dual purposes: it housed a minimalist white box gallery and provided her with a personal workshop in the back where she could create her art. Tragically, a devastating fire in an adjacent building nine months later resulted in a total loss of her gallery. This heartrending episode could have stifled her aspirations, but Westlake chose to view it as a catalyst for growth and an opportunity to forge a new path.

Rejecting the idea of reopening the gallery, Westlake decided to explore an unconventional route. She purchased an erstwhile auto parts building in her hometown, Zumbrota, transforming it into a thriving artistic workspace. With the assistance of her supportive husband, she meticulously renovated the space into a full-time, expansive studio. It’s in this creative sanctuary that Wendy Westlake continues to refine her craft, deriving immense satisfaction and joy from her chosen profession.

Wendy Westlake’s Creative Arena: The Dance of Perspectives and Manipulation of Space

Wendy Westlake’s artistic process is an evolving dance between large walls and movable tables, a tactile symphony of movement, perspective, and creation. This dynamic tableau serves as her creative arena, where canvases shift from the verticality of the wall to the horizontal plane of the table, each position offering unique vantage points and inviting fresh interventions.

Westlake employs an array of brushes in her repertoire, including oversized ones typically reserved for wall paintings. These are her trusted allies at the outset of every creation, the inaugural tools that lay the first strokes onto the canvas. As her work progresses, she transitions from brushes to paint shapers, implementing these to apply the subsequent, denser layers of paint.

Marca-Relli’s work from the 1970s, particularly his oil and collage pieces such as LL-2-72, hold a special resonance for Westlake. The balance struck by Marca-Relli between the positive collage elements and the negative spaces, his disciplined palette and adept manipulation of minimalist shapes, are sources of admiration and inspiration for Westlake, reflecting in her perception, the epitome of artistic genius.

The potential of collage as a medium holds a particular allure for Westlake, specifically when it incorporates materials she has dyed herself. This is an avenue she has begun to explore and is eager to delve deeper into.

An aspect that consistently captivates Westlake is scale. The concept of magnifying her work, of extending her canvases beyond their current dimensions, persistently sparks her imagination. The tantalizing possibility of going larger, of constantly pushing the boundaries of her work, remains a steady undercurrent in her artistic journey.

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