Category Archives: Painting

New Studio Artist: the Lovely World of Kate Waddell

Kate Waddell, Blush

Kate Waddell, Blush

You would like Kate Waddell.  She has a serene, focused smile and a great handshake; her palette could have been shaken from a box of Tropical Mike and Ike’s.  

Her studio is tiled with happy canvases: glossy roosters sprawled in bold, contented shades of punch and berry; breakfast settings and bowls of fruit with backgrounds blocked out in shades of pink and blood orange.  Even the rich blues of Waddell’s figure studies have a warm, street-lit quality.  One can’t help assuming that the world of her mind must be a pleasant place to be.

“I’m just trying to bring some joy to the art world,” she says, peacefully dabbing at a rooster-in-progress.  Turning to smile at me, warmly tanned, her hair pulled off her neck in a loose ponytail.  “There are people who try to be so difficult by doing this offensive stuff, but I’d rather paint what is beautiful,” she says, and the galleries- Bee Street Studios, Brown Dog– are lining up.  

She’s fresh off a show held at Candlefish earlier this month,  and had worked hard on having ‘cohesive palette and subjects’ for that, making everything all of a piece.  “I rely on brushstrokes and line to help everything go well together.”

Kate Waddell, Curtis.

Kate Waddell, Curtis.

Her next show is back home in Columbus, Georgia- “I’m going to do more fruit stuff for that-” where she attended the same high school as Teil Duncan and Lulie Wallace, who’ve also limned out successful painting careers here in Charleston, creating similarly happy, comfortable canvases that make you smile.  

Is there something in the water back home?

Waddell pauses.  “The arts were really big at my high school,” she says.

I was intrigued.  “Seriously?”

“It’s a smaller school, so they were able to really nurture us, fostering everyone to do what they liked best.”  

We’re talking about brushstrokes, appealing lines, and I mention Wayne Thiebaud, one of my favorites.  About a painting of his, Around the Cake, which hung for many years in my hometown museum.  How’d I’d stand there and stare at it, transfixed, even when I was young- those thick, glossy strokes-!

“During my freshman year, we had this assignment.  We had to paint a portrait of an artist and also of his work.  I did Thiebaud!  His lipstick tubes- that was when I fell in love with painting.”  Waddell smiles privately, remembering the moment.

About Cofc- she “loved it, loved Charleston.”  She worked for Teal Duncan, who is five years older.  “There’s a stigma, you know, around arts majors at college”- but Duncan’s success as a painter here in Charleston made for a reassuring friendship.  Waddell thought she could make it here, too.  “I’m never leaving.”

There’s a comfortable pause as she paints, and I glance around at her studio.  Stray pink balloons left over from a recent photo shoot, a tiny white wheelie cart with a cosmetic bag, a tiny pink moleskin.  Waddell works next to a larger stainless steel cart lidded with glass.  It makes for a big, roomy palette- generous dabs of those Mike and Ike colors- and on the shelves underneath I spy a spray can, a dog eared palette, a green toolbox.  

The paints she isn’t using are arranged on a large wooden board brightly quilled with brass hooks, each one rolled up tidily and clipped in place with black binder clips.  It’s a lovely system, made for her by a young architect friend, Dixon Prewitt.

“I’m not naturally a neat person.  But I’m trying,” she says.

I ask Waddell about her process, if she works from photographs.   “I take one image and then do variations on it,” she says, decisively, and then pauses, thinking. “I see the fruit stuff in my head, though.  I do a lot of portraiture, too.  From photos.  That’s my favorite.  And I usually play music- Young the Giant, Motherfolk.  Chill music.”  

She talks about using color to depict a mood.  

“Sometimes you get a sense of color in being with people and objects.  What’s that word-” Waddell says, hunting for it-

“Synesthesia.”

“Yes.  That. But not dramatically,” she says.  That small private smile again as Waddell turns back to her punch-colored world, where joy itself provides all the drama she needs.  

Follow Kate on instagram at  instagram @katewaddellart.    


-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  Her novel Evening’s Land  won the 2014 Helene Wurlitzer Fellowship Award and 2015’s Carol Marie Smith Scholarship for Martha’s Vineyard Writer’s Residency.  West is represented by Natalia Aponte of AponteLiterary.

Kate Waddell

Kate Waddell, Palmer.

Kate Waddell, Citrus City.

Kate Waddell, Citrus City.

Kate Waddell, Vendue Blue.

Kate Waddell, Vendue Blue.

Kate Waddell, Guac

Kate Waddell, Guac

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Lulie Wallace: The Sweet Life

Spiky Flowers, by Lulie Wallace

Spiky Flowers, by Lulie Wallace

Lulie Wallace is scrolling through designs she’s fashioned into patterns on her laptop: “There’s a million of them, there’s tons,” she says, smiling.

“I’ve licensed things before to places like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters- but what I’ve really been wanting to see is whole patterns [based on her work]- and it turns out there’s this whole field called surface design.  It turns out a lot of illustrators are in surface design.  And a lot of artists.”

We’re sitting in Redux’s classroom at two wooden tables tucked together just shy of the center of the room.  Big boxes of Wallace’s goods are stacked to one side, ready to ship out.  The AC blows down to one side of us warmishly, and if we turn to one side we can see into Wallace’s studio.

The burlap doors are still pinned back from her recent show, and from here I can see walls filled from floor to ceiling with cheerful canvases: flowers in patterned pots and pitchers, cheerful tablescapes.  One shows a table strewn with flower cuttings and a pair of scissors.  Wallace’s work is whimsical and folksy, with a largely pastel palette; each one beachy and full of sunshine like Wallace herself, who is wriggling in her chair beside me, happily vibrating in flip flops and cut offs as she scrolls.

“I love seeing art come off the canvas.  I mean, you look at a blouse, you look at a bedspread- they’re forms of everyday art, art you can actually use.  So my idea is to approach people who are already working with fabric and have them use my patterns.  There are five collaborators I’d really like to work with- I call them my dreamweavers.” She smiles when I ask who her dreamweavers are.  “Let’s call them a local clothing company, a kids clothing line, maybe a badass stationary line.”  A friend of hers comes into the classroom wielding a box of cupcakes;  Lulie dives in delightedly.  “Fabric is so nice because it doesn’t take a lot of money to see the art form to fruition.  And I can do fabric to order.  I can do it by the yard.”

Pink Flowers, by Lulie Wallace

Pink Flowers, by Lulie Wallace

 

So how does this work, turning one of her canvases into a pattern?

“I sketch with a very fine illustrator pen and then I scan into an ordinary printer.  I use Adobe Illustrator and photoshop.  I applied to get a UGA fabric design student to come in and intern here this summer, and she’s teaching me all the technical stuff I wouldn’t have known.  She’s super proficient in photoshop.”

Machinery whines from a studio on the other side of the gallery.

“It’s like a giant carpenter bee,” I say- and then wince as the whine gives way to hammering.

Wallace laughs.  “That’s Kaminer.  [A jewelry designer.]  We call her Haminer.”  Something on her screen suddenly catches her eye, and Lulie Wallace leans into her computer, concentrating.

I excuse myself for a few minutes to explore her studio, leaving Wallace to work. Behind the burlap doors I find a large wheelie cart piled high with brushes, paints, used palettes.  A pair of old-fashioned sunglasses perch owlishly above a small carton of maple almond butter in squeezie packs.  An emergency stash?  More palettes, paints, brushes.

Underneath all this is the aforementioned printer; ordinary, as Wallace said, and on the other side of the cart is a jumble of shoes, some tupperware, and a beach towel.  The walls are covered with canvases, and a tall metal chair sits in one corner, splattered with paint.  It is facing her newest piece, featuring a brightly colored table setting. When I come back out into the classroom, Wallace is scrolling again.

“Its so fun to scan your stuff in,” she says.  “There’s so many color manipulation possibilities.  Things you could never do ordinarily with a canvas- you can change the color palette in an instant, completely changing the personality of a pattern.  Same design, but with a different color.  We call that ‘color-ways.’”

“Beautiful word.”

“It is.” Wallace looks up as her intern, Brooke Davidson, sails into the studio.  Davidson’s sunny blonde hair is tied up and smoothed back by a wide black headband.

Davidson explains she primarily works in photoshop.  “You try to create a repeat where you don’t notice the tile.  When I look at fabric I can see if its’ got a good repeat or not.”

“Can you look at fabric and pick out the tile?”

“Kind of, sometimes.  There’s also this thing you can do called a half drop repeat, where the pattern kind of continues down, and so the next one fits into it a little lower.”

I ask her how she likes her internship.

“It’s been really fun, I love Charleston so much!  I wish I could stay, but I have to go back and student teach.  But maybe someday!”

We talk about the possibility of her getting a studio here, and of further collaborations with Lulie. She’s been working with Wallace to help her develop “a portfolio of a ton of repeats.  And I’ve been painting a lot this summer, I’m been so inspired by,” she sweeps her hands around us,  “all this!  I’m doing abstract stuff, playing with layers.  It’s cellular, almost.  And Lulie gives me so much good advice.  She said next week maybe I could even bring my stuff in, we can play around with it in photoshop.  Have you seen the lunchboxes she does?”

Davidson takes me around to the side of Lulie Wallace’s studio; more canvases, more boxes of product.  She pulls out an old fashioned metal lunch box coated in one of Wallace’s cheery design.

“How fun!”

“Yeah, she’s great,” Brooke says, grinning.

But cupcake break is over, and now Wallace and Davidson seem itchy to get back to work.  We hug goodbye, and I leave them still happily chattering and scrolling away under the air conditioner.

-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  Her novel Evening’s Land recently won the Helene Wurlitzer Fellowship Award.

Peaches and Cream, by Lulie Wallace

Peaches and Cream, by Lulie Wallace

Oil Painting with Erik Johnson

Where the Wind Always Howls

Where the Wind Always Howls

Fan whirring peacefully in one corner, the painter Erik Johnson moves around the studio, arranging wax paper palettes for his Monday night painting workshop. He is slender and graceful, with the reflective stillness of a Zen practitioner.  Johnson, who is a gallery artist represented by Robert Lange Studios, has been teaching workshops at Redux for “about a year,” he says.  “And I just finished up on a mural painting class at a high school.  Can you imagine doing that for a class in high school?”

I shake my head, smiling.  Johnson has the comfortable immediacy of a person who finds himself at home wherever in the world he goes, but he’s been in Charleston “about 18 years.”

I’m sitting in a plastic chair that is precisely the color of melty orange sherbet, my back to the burlap doors of the two smaller painting studios behind us; Johnson, wearing faded plaid shorts and periwinkle blue shirt, moves back and forth inside the horseshoe of folding tables, adjusting, rearranging.

He says offering this workshop has forced him to clarify his teaching.  “I almost feel sorry for my early students,” he says, laughing.

“I met some of my favorite teachers when they were teaching their first class.  I think sometimes it can make you more accessible.  Because you’re less jaded, more open, maybe.  But you say this class has clarified your teaching- what would you say are some of the core tenets to becoming a better painter?”

“Patience.  I’ve spend 200 hours on a single painting.  A lot of the work I do resembles my students’ in its early stages, but I just push on longer.  Monday night classes are three hours long, once a week, for four weeks.  And I offer an intermediate class after that for four weeks.  But the thing is, a lot of people just keep on taking workshop after workshop.  But they also need to paint on their own,” he says.  “Working on your own is how you learn what you need to ask in class, so that workshops like this are really valuable. And you can read about painting, too.  Independent study, that’s important.”

I scribble this down, then look up for more.

But Johnson shrugs, closing a drawer of paints.  “That’s about it.  You can teach technique and craft.  Experience is really what does it, what makes you a good painter.  But its most important that your art says something.  And I don’t know that you can teach that.”

“Does your work have a message?”

“Some of it.  I do different things, but I have some recurring metaphors.  Like goldfish- you know, you look at a goldfish in a bowl.  That bowl is its whole world, yet it exists in a much larger world.  We all have our own bowls, our own spheres of experience.  To me a goldfish is a perfect representative of the individual in the world.” He pulls out his ipad thoughtfully.  “I like to put them into different scenarios, these beautiful scenarios, but when you really look at it, you see there’s something there-” he shows me a photorealistic painting of an old fashioned scale, balancing a globe at one end and a fishbowl at the other.  “This one’s called The Needs of the Many.”

The Needs of the Many

The Needs of the Many

Leap

Leap

“And this one- “We Cannot Rest.”

We Cannot Rest

We Cannot Rest

“I’m a minimalist,” Johnson says.  “I usually just paint the object, maybe with a little something else.  And I work very slowly, but I like to paint the ephemeral- goldfish, fire- so in the early stages I compose my first sketch with photos.”  He puts away the ipad as the first of his students walks into the room.  He shakes her hand, greeting her warmly.  Daniela is a Brazilian biologist and the proud mother of three cats; this is her first time taking one of his workshops.  She beams, delighted to be here.

Johnson walks around the horseshoe squirting dabs of red paint onto the wax paper palette in front of each chair, talking to Daniela and I.  “So recently I was talking with some other artists about themes in their work, and this one guy said his work was about finding a home.”  He puts down the red paint and picks up yellow, making his second round.  “He says he’s looking for home still.  Would you say have a sense of home?” he says.

“My parents moved out of the house I grew up in a long time ago.  So when I go home to visit, I never experience have that deep sense of being at home, you know.  But I dream about it.  The rooms, that house.  When I’m dreaming, that house- or parts of it- is still where I live.  So I guess my sense of home doesn’t exist in the real.  I carry it in my mind.”

Daniela says that as an expat, her heart is forever in two places at once.  Wherever she goes, part of her still misses the home she’s just left.

Johnson is fascinated.  “It seems like so many people have that place they want to be.  A place that feels like home.  But I’m just here.”  He shrugs, smiling. “I’m just happy.  Although I do like to visit New York every couple of years.  I get an itch if I haven’t visited in a couple of years.  But I’d never want to live there.”

“You’re a bloom where you’re planted kind of guy.”

“I guess I am.”

You can follow Erik Johnson’s work on both Facebook and Instagram.  He likes “the videogame aspect of Instagram; I’m trying to reach that high score, that K behind my number!” and someday plans to sell sketches and drawings through social media.

On summer Mondays from 6-9, you’ll find him here at Redux, teaching patience, practicing kindness.

Do yourself a kindness and take his class.

-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  Her novel Evening’s Land recently won the Helene Wurlitzer Fellowship Award.

You Are Here

You Are Here

 

Dan Dickey

“I’ve always painted with a lot of texture, but I didn’t start splatter painting until I moved here.  This is my first studio that wasn’t also a kitchen or a bedroom,” Dan Dickey says.   We’re at the Tivoli, standing in his studio, where every wall is shielded with color-ribboned canvases.  His grandfather’s mower hulks in the center of the room, swizzled with yellow, orange, purple, white and pale-blue.

“I brought it down from Virginia, but when it wouldn’t start, I decided to cover it in paint.”  With a round, fox-colored beard and his way of rooting himself where he stands, Dickey has the distilled presence of a disciplined man.

He shows me how he dips the blunt end of a brush into a paint can and uses it to make a controlled drip over the canvas.

“Sometimes I put a dab of paint here and here, you know, and then I roll the middle of the brush through it.”  He indicated a wandering swath and then, looking at the long, paint-mottled brush in his hand, Dickey said, “I like this one.  I think I might put it up on a long, narrow canvas, just all by itself.  It has a pop.”

“Yeah, it does.”  It’s warm, breezeless in the room, and I pluck at my shirt, absorbed in his paintings.

He smiled.  “A lot of sweat goes into these.  Pretty soon it’ll get too hot to work in here at all, but I usually paint a month on, a month off.  So it’s all right.”

“What’s it like in the winter?”

“Well, it’s cold.”  He shrugged, indifferent.  “I like to work at night.  This canvas, here?  I got up to the crow’s nest up there, all whiskey drunk, and threw the paint down from there.”  The result was thick, ridged tributaries like dried sediment.

I looked around at the other studios.  White drapes swaying from rafters.  Ladders to nowhere, propped up against the walls.  Large, industrial furniture slouched in the corners, rusting comfortably; the warehouse was full of coves where artists could work deeply, losing themselves in process.

“Yeah,” I said, “and in places like this, alone in it at night?  You’re aware of space in a way you can’t be when there’s people in it.”

“Yeah, yeah, absolutely,” he said.  “This canvas is one of Andrew Smock’s.  Underneath all this,” he indicated the layers of paint, “is the Angel Oak, but I painted over it.  A lot of these canvases, actually, have stuff buried beneath them.”  On a wall outside his studio was an enormous piece created from a checkerboard of records and record sleeves, stitched by paint into an interpretation of the American flag.

He likes to bury physical objects as he paints; masks, tubs, tin lids; letting skeins of color veil the ordinary shapes, creating new, shifting ones.

Dickey’s studio feels deliciously like the pages of a Magic Eye book.  You can visit it at 656 King Street.

 

The whisky incident.

The whisky incident.

 

-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  She is at work on her first Southern Gothic.

Joshua Breland: Pathways in Art

This past April a group of students shuffled into the Redux gallery to gaze at Yulia Pinkusevich’s aggregate map of the psychology of cities, Reversion.  The assignment, prepared ahead of time, was on drawing perspectives.  Today they were going to draw monsters destroying a city.  

But the Boston Marathon had just been bombed and the bombers were still at large.  The pretended destruction of cities suddenly seemed less gleeful.  After explaining the day’s assignment, the Outreach Coordinator, Joshua Breland, paused.  “How’s everyone feeling?” he said.  “Let’s talk about this.”

The conversation was brief and halting.  Everyone agreed they felt angry and frightened.  They were shocked, and worried about the victims.  They were sad.  As the kids then fell silent, Joshua walked them into the large, cheery painting studio which opens off the main gallery space of Redux.

“Let’s see if we can use art to process this,” he said.  He spread out their art supplies, and they began to work.

Breland has long used art to process terrifying concepts.  When we spoke in his studio on Friday, there was a large portrait of colorful bodies on one wall, and a view on the dark, electric edges of a city on the other.  A weird energy reverbed through both.  Joshua began to paint, explaining the canvases I’d noted.  The first portrayed victims of the Holocaust.  The second was a window on New York City after 9-11.

Joshua has a jittery charm and the ability to put strangers quickly at ease; with his fluffy brown hair and delicate, tapering face, his corduroy Toms and faded red board shorts, he could be your best friend’s younger brother, the one everyone always knew would go to art school.  His whimsical tattoos- an old fashioned radio, MLK, a spread eagled insect on his bicep- look as though they came from a personal sketchbook, giving him an idealistic air.  He is a young artist who wears his heart on his skin, and welcomes the world into his art.  His paintings are a commentary on cultural abysses rather than private ones, and he loves working in the Charleston community to bring art into the everyday.

As Outreach Coordinator, Joshua has a hand in the design of many upcoming Outreach programs which concentrate on Lowcountry Traditions, including Gullah Sing & Dance, Traditional Southern Art, African Storytelling.  He’s helping to coordinate a sculpture and 3D design month next year, which will feature a silver bracelet making class. He would also like to arrange weekly or biweekly crafting visits with the elderly, and artist-led student field trips to the Gibbes.  He recently completed a 9-11 remembrance mural at Chicora elementary, which he painted with the help of two students and two (taller) volunteer parents, and is already in talks with Chicora to do another.

He lit up as he spoke about the Outreach, painting with brisk, dance-like strokes.  He’s been working to obtain a $10,000 grant from Blackbaud in order to make all these programs possible, an experience he’s found deeply satisfying.  “I love to dive deeply into projects, and see things through to fruition.”  He grinned.  “And I like to be busy.”

-article by Pauline West

Lulie Wallace Opening Tonight!

LullieW-March2013

 

Please join Lulie Wallace tonight from 5-10pm at Stems Floral Boutique, 208 Coming Street, downtown Charleston for the viewing of her 2013 Spring/Summer textile line and her latest paintings. This show is for one night only! After tonight, Lulie’s paintings and fabric may be seen by appointment at Redux Contemporary Art Center. If interested in making an appointment, please contact Lulie for more information.

Lulie is a high-spirited, prolific, and accomplished artist who has collaborated with Anthropologie, Serena & Lily, Urban Outfitters and more. Her works are in high demand, so be sure to get there early. See you there!

Exciting News for Redux Artist Lulie Wallace

Lulie Wallace

Flowers for Paula by Lulie Wallace

Redux artist, Lulie Wallace, is as vibrant and bright as her whimsical flower paintings. Completely dedicated to her studio practice, visitors to Redux will often find her diligently working on several paintings at once. When surrounded by Lulie and her abundant work, one can’t help but feel uplifted and cheerful. That being said, it’s no wonder why her work is quickly gaining popularity.

Recently, retail store Anthropologie recently acquired 22 of her original pieces (and featured her work in a recent catalog!), while Urban Outfitters secured the rights to sell two of her pieces as prints. Lulie also recently developed a textile line based on her original painting designs, currently consisting of weekender and duffel bags, in collaboration with Stitch Design Co. and Usner Products.

For more information on Lulie, or to purchase her paintings, prints and textiles, visit her website here.