Pentimento: Laurieanne Wysocki

Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery hosts Pentimento, paintings and assemblages by Shutesbury artist Laurieanne Wysocki from April 7 - 30, 2016.

Pentimento means a change made by an artist during the process of painting. It is a visible trace of earlier work beneath layers of paint.

Laurieanne’s work is very textural and built up slowly by applying layers of paint and acrylic mediums to canvas and wood. The surface of the substrate may initially include a layer of wet stucco which she manipulates by using a variety of tools such as palette knives, stencils, and wood blocks. In this recent series of paintings, she has added rusted metals and other elements of mixed media to create a more dramatic dimension.

Laurieanne explains:

“Often, I begin a painting without a preconceived objective, but once a form, figure, or pattern is revealed that attracts my interest, I’m inspired to further develop the image. The image can be representative or abstract and may change several times throughout the process as I add or remove materials. Choosing what to keep and what to take away can be calculated or spontaneous. For me, making art is about making choices and finding courage to follow through on each choice with integrity. It doesn’t matter if along the way the painting evolves in different directions. This is inevitable; not regrettable. As long as I continue to approach the work with an open mind, allowing my intuition to guide me, I will discover harmony within the composition. A good day is when I connect with my work and find ways to express my inner feelings. A great day is when a connection is also made by the viewer.”

Laurieanne’s work is in private collections in Western Mass, Boston, New York, San Francisco, and London; and the Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg, Russia.

An opening reception will be held on April 7 in conjunction with Amherst Art Walk, from 5pm to 8pm. An artist reception will follow on Saturday, April 9, from 4:30pm to 8pm.

Image: detail of “Crimson and Gold Triptych”, mixed media on canvas, 40” x 30”, by Laurieanne Wysocki

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Q&A with Laurieanne

How old were you when you created your first artwork?
Like most kids, I spent a lot of time day dreaming and doodling. I would fill notebooks with repetitive patterns and shapes, mostly squiggly curlicues and squares within squares. Sort of the Zentangle of the 1960’s. Coloring books weren’t for me; I was never one to color within the lines. I wanted to design my own stuff. My first real artwork that got me excited about creativity was a collage made out of tea stained paper bags. I ripped up the paper and glued the pieces onto cardboard. As part of our third grade history project, we were instructed to make a book cover look old. I just took it to the next level.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Actually, I wanted to be an actor. For years I studied at HB Studio in New York City and went out on auditions. Part of the requirement in an acting class is to spend a great deal of time rehearsing. And this was before the advent of cell phones so you can imagine how hard it was to make and keep appointments. I soon realized that too many people were involved in my creativity. Once I discovered painting, I could be creative, by myself, day or night and didn’t have to depend on any one to make it happen.

Why did you choose your medium?
It chose me. I had a dream that I made a painting. The next morning I went down to Pearl Paint in NYC and bought a bunch of acrylic paint and a canvas. Although the finished piece was a disaster, I didn’t give up. Sometime later, I began painting on that same canvas and got it to a place where I could tolerate looking at it. I continue to work with acrylics but have discovered so many other mediums along the way that allow me to build up the paint with texture. I also love working with metal and wood and finding a new life for discarded objects.

Where do you work?
I have an amazing studio looking out over Lake Wyola in Shutesbury. It’s an absolute paradise and my most favorite place to be in the world. That says a lot coming from a person whose has traveled extensively on six continents.

What is your creative process like? How do you work?
I usually begin by applying flexible modeling paste or wet stucco to the substrate and as it dries, I manipulate the surface using palette knives, stencils, wood blocks, anything that will make an interesting impression. After that, I apply color washes and mediums to build up the texture. Many of my paintings have added rusted metals and other elements of mixed media to create a more dramatic dimension. The paintings take time to dry so I am often working on several pieces at the same time.

What do you like about being an artist in the valley?
Community support is awesome. There are so many places to see great art here. From the college museums to local galleries, as well the Amherst Art Walk, Northampton’s Arts Night Out, and Easthampton City Arts,  - these are weekly events that get people out and looking at art. Sawmill River Arts in Montague and Leverett Crafts and Arts are off the beaten track but showcase amazing talent. Even the participation of valley restaurants who hang the work of emerging artists helps to show that this community is interested in art.

Any advice to young artists?
Don’t let anybody tell you that you aren’t good enough. Listen to your own voice and believe in yourself. Work hard at your craft and you will be rewarded. I once was told that “I couldn’t paint the broad side of a barn”. My response to that is, “Oh I can, and it will have a damn cool mural on it”.

Press

Hampshire Life 4/1/16: Art Maker: Laurieanne Wysocki | Painter, assemblage artist, woodworker

From the article:

Laurieanne Wysocki creates paintings and mixed media art in her Lake Wyola studio in Shutesbury. She lived for many years in New York City, where she exhibited in solo and group shows. She has traveled the world, both independently and as a tour director for Road Scholar educational programs, and has been to more than 80 countries on six continents. She says her cultural impressions are often reflected in her work.

“Seeing the world and experiencing different cultures has enriched my life in so many ways, not least, finding the inspiration to express these influences in my paintings,” Wysocki says. “For an artist, color plays a big part. From the softly faded mosaic stones in ancient ruins to the brilliantly colored stained glass windows in Europe’s medieval churches, I am fascinated by the colors of the world: Pompeii red, Saharan yellow ochre, Turkish indigo blue, Syrian stone gray, the sharp white of an Arctic glacier all have a place on my palette.”

Wysocki’s work is in private collections in western Massachusetts, Boston, New York, San Francisco and London; and in the Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Hampshire Life: Describe the work you are doing now.

Laurieanne Wysocki: Primarily I make paintings, often in triptych form, usually abstract. I’m attracted to rich, vibrant colors and texture, both of which I attain by applying alternating layers of paint and acrylic mediums to canvas and wood. Lately I’ve been learning how to weld so my more recent work includes assemblages made out of rusted metal and discarded objects. I run a pretty mean hot glue gun.

H.L.: What is your creative process like? 

L.W.: I usually begin by applying flexible modeling paste or wet stucco to the substrate and as it dries, I manipulate the surface using palette knives, stencils, wood blocks, anything that will make an interesting impression. After that, I apply color washes and mediums to build up the texture. Many of my paintings have added rusted metals and other elements of mixed media to create a more dramatic dimension.

H.L.: How do you know you're on the right track?

L.W.: When time disappears. Abstract expressionism can be transcendental. When I am fully engaged in a wall-size painting, I am operating on a deep personal level and not concerned with anything else. A relationship develops between me and the canvas as I respond quickly to what is happening. It’s about making choices and following through. The direction may change but as long as I continue to approach the work with an open mind, allowing my intuition to guide me, I will discover harmony within the composition.

H.L.: How do you know when a work is done?

L.W.: It’s never done. There can always be something to add or change. It’s more about letting go. When I can walk by a painting and it doesn’t beg for attention, then I’ll move on.

H.L.: What did you do today that relates to your art?

L.W.: I covered the paintings that will be in my next show in a clear coat to protect them from ultraviolet degradation from the sun.

— Kathleen Mellen

A quick visual look into Laurieanne Wysocki's process, focusing on the "Barry Moser" painting

Barry Moser  40 x 59"  Acrylic paint and textured mediums on canvas

(We created a companion booklet for the show to illustrate Laurieanne’s Pentimento process)

I began with a purple abstract piece. (it had been a part of a triptych - one canvas in green/blue, and another in red/orange). Beneath the purple, there were many layers of flexible modeling paste and plaster. I used stencils for geometric patterns. A few months later, I painted over the purple with white, then started an abstract expressionistic painting in grey.That step was very short-lived, maybe lasting only an afternoon. Next, white again and then geometric shapes in black, grey, and white. As I added color, the painting began to look like a circus platform so I went in that direction and made a triptych with flying acrobats. I worked on it over the years, but was never really happy with it. My intention was to make a brightly colored triptych for a children's hospital - something to occupy the minds of fidgety and nervous kids in a waiting room. Of course, this idea never came to fruition as I didn't show it to anyone, didn't solicit a hospital, and then painted over the entire thing!

Further inspiration came from Barry Moser, a local artist and writer. I've been admiring his work since he published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1982; I began collecting his books of illustrations and essays shortly thereafter. Recently, after we met, I was inspired to use his wood engraving, Self-Portrait at 59, in a painting. I liked the texture of Circus and thought that someone as brainy as Barry Moser deserved to have a lot of built up layers beneath his skin, so I painted over Circus. (It's not that I didn't have any blank canvases on hand - I stretch my own canvas and my husband Evan builds the poplar wood stretchers, so there's a readily available supply at any given time. But I needed the texture of Circus and couldn't wait to start anew. Impatience and spontaneity go hand in hand).You can see the stages of the process as I painted over Circus in white, then drew Barry, and then began to add color washes. On the top of Barry's head you can see the bubbly circles from the original purple abstract painting.