In the late 1940s of Post-World War II America, artists were heavily influenced by the Great Depression, Mexican muralists, and the surrealist idea that art should come from the unconscious mind. Out of this world came Abstract Expressionism, an art form of many vastly different painterly styles but a shared emphasis on the unstudied application of paint and intuitive psychic improvisation. This movement became a powerful way for women to express their thoughts and emotions through gestural abstraction, and swathes of magnificent color.
Suzan Kraus is a contemporary multi-media collage artist. Through the intuitive manipulation of handmade and hand painted paper, she creates designs that are enlivened with earthy colors and textures. Kraus creates mixed-media works with handmade papers from around the world and accentuates them with found objects. She utilizes this technique to convey subtle sensitivities about life that would normally not be evident in a painting. As a hobby, she has also taken up Chinese brush painting. About her art Kraus has said, “Just like life, doing art is a journey of discovery. Each piece of work that I get involved in is a metaphorical symbol of where I am mentally, physically and spiritually in my process of coming to consciousness. I truly feel that because of some very auspicious star alignment, I have been awarded this grand opportunity to be an artist and teacher. It is my full time job that I take quite seriously and approach with a grateful mind and heart.”
The paintings of Elliot Twelvetrees are abstract visions, glimpses of interior landscapes, fragments of visual stories told with lush color fields and neutral palettes with mark making using both standard and unconventional tools. Informed by training in the Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain, and a career as a decorative painter, she fuses classical and modern paint techniques to abstract and abstract-expressionist sensibilities. Brought up in a touring, musical family, she has lived in and experienced many cities and cultures in the U.S., Europe, and Central America. Her aesthetic has been cultivated in countless museums, libraries, natural landscapes, and city cafes. “When I compose and make a painting I am conjuring with color, gestural line, memory, and layers of paint. I want you to see vistas from the corner of your eye, remember a long-lost poem, hear a distant melody, be enveloped by a subtle or powerful mood.”
Patty Flauto is an contemporary abstract painter living in Rocky River, Ohio. Creativity runs through her work and her life with an unending passion for color and design.
Using the canvas as a window rather than an overt narrative, the strong compositions, colors and shapes in her work invite the viewer to pause and interpret. Impression overshadows realism, creating a dialogue between artist and viewer. Layers of meaning allow for thought, escape and a sense of satisfaction.
Abstraction supports a unique and personal mental meandering as a shift between “real life” and “imagined life”. Imagination provides personal, private moments that can inspire improvisational emotion.
My subject matter is found through guided imagery using knowledge and intuition of the world as I feel it. My work represents elements of the natural world and spiritual world. I consider my works drawings because I use my hand, fingers, sand paper and other tools in addition to brushes to push different mediums on paper. I am inspired by the work of these modernists: Clyfford Still for vertical and horizontal movement, Hans Hoffman for displacement of form, Lee Krasner for gesture, George Rouault for strong line, and Agnes Martin, for silence. I feel gratitude when I achieve balance of the familiar and unfamiliar, allowing me complete freedom from the material world.
“My work is about color, symbol, humor, people, the rational mind, the irrational mind, the world we see, the world we don’t. If the personal in art does not touch the universal, it is narcissism. Inward directed art should reach a spirit that links it to a wider being.”
As an artist, a question I tend to get often is “How do you let your art go after you’ve sold it?” There is a common misconception that each piece an artist makes is like a child or a gemstone, something so personal and rare that giving it away must be painful. But the truth is, each piece better resembles a stepping stone. As an artist of more than 20 years, creating moves me forward, veering me into paths I could’ve never anticipated, all in search of the next thing that will make my heart beat faster than the rest. When people ask how I let my art go, I simply tell them, “I haven’t yet painted the one I can’t let go, and that is what keeps me going.”
Originally finding solace in the stillness of landscapes, my art has evolved as I have throughout the years. Determined to constantly be learning and relearning, I have delved into the genres and subjects that called to me, and challenged me most. From the delicate realism of ballerinas, to the color and playfulness of florals, my work emulates the same movement that allows me to put each new stepping stone down, continuing my evolution. Now I find myself slinging paint faster than ever, using abstract expressionism as a vibrant new medium with which to tell my story.
It is through abstract expressionism that I have been able to articulate some of life’s biggest challenges, from losing my mother to Alzheimers, to losing my own hearing about ten years ago. My work has given me a new language, not only to hear my own voice more plainly, but to allow others to hear it too. I hope each piece fills you with awe, and reminds you of the stones on your own path. Moving with color, brimming with life.