Artist Statement | Dawn Russell lives in Suttons Bay, Michigan, with husband James, and four children (Sara, 21 yrs, Ryann, 20, Kelsey, 19 and Connor, 11). She and her family enjoy sailing, martial arts, music, and too many other things!
Dawn studied Fine Art for a short time at the UW-Eau Claire, before making a “practical” shift in focus to Business Information Sytems, and continuing studies in Entrepreneuership at DePaul in Chicago. After a brief (25-yr!) tangent working in IS, “life events” led Dawn to shift back to her passion for visual art, now as a profession. She works primarily in watercolor and pastel, painting regularly with a “life drawing” group in Suttons Bay, and other area studio and “plein air” groups in the area.
Dawn paints in a wide array of subject matter and styles – landscape, abstracts, nautical themes, florals, animals, life – and has exhibited in assorted venues. In 2010 she established Russell Arts and Technology ( www.russellartsntech.com ) through which she promotes her work as an “Artist”, and “IT Artisan”, offering limited IT services such as fine art printing (giclée), graphic design, and general IT consulting, in addition to “doing art” – painting and teaching.
Most recently, Dawn opened a new “cooperative-style” art gallery in leelanau county, with partners Susan Fehrenbach and Jane Ditri. “Gallery 22, llc” ( www.gal22.com ), having opened in April of 2011, exhibits the work of over 30 area artists and artisans, including that of the three owners.
Psalm 37:4 is a source of encouragement and the foundation for Dawn's “work” as an artist. And as for that profession, "Working as an artist, in beautiful, Leelanau County ... it doesn't get much better than this! “
Artist Interview |
Q:What was your first memorable experience with art?
A: I don't remember a time when I did not draw or paint! I remember my parents taking me to painting classes at the local Parks&Recreation department, when I was quite young. Growing up, I always felt lucky to have beautiful art supplies to use. I remember sitting in front of an easel which my father made for me, drawing or painting, using my “Breyer” horses as models.
Q: Can you explain when you first knew you wanted to become an artist? Who/What turned you on to Art?
A: I always knew that I either wanted to be a jockey (grew too tall), a horse rancher (developed an allergy to horses), or an artist! Lots of encouragement from my parents and many wonderful art instructors/mentors, validated my “Art” dreams. But it wasn't until about 10 years ago, after over twenty years in the Information Technology field, that I started to work professionally as an artist.
Q: Is there any single piece of artwork that has impacted you as a child? An adolescent? An adult?
A: I was captivated by the illustrations of CW Anderson and Wesley Dennis' as a child. I was later intrigued by works of the “grotesque renaissance”, such as those by Goya. I've always loved the works of Da Vinci and Michelangelo, especially their detailed drawings and sketches.
Q: What artists influenced you the most? Current Influences?
A: I've studied and appreciated the work of so many... in museums, workshops that I've taken, artist magazines, and the artwork which hangs in my own gallery! I believe that my work and my approach to it, continues to grow under the influence of artists that I admire.
Q: What do you like most about the medium and surface you use?
A: I love watercolor for it's beautiful, therapeutic qualities. It forces me to “chill out”... to allow the colors to perform naturally, and then to respond. It's like a dialog for me, AND an exercise in restraint!
For very different reasons, I love working with soft pastels – their directness, their brilliance, their “skribble-ability! With pastels, I can “model” or “sculpt” forms in a painting – adding, taking away, building up – almost as if it were a 3-dimensional piece.
Q: What ideas are behind you current work?
A: My first objective, is for my paintings to reflect the surprising beauty of this world we've been blessed with. We all have a different vision or perception of what we see and experience. Art is a wonderful tool for communicating a very personal, sensual reaction to this beauty, which is unique to each of us.
Q: What do you want people to respond to in your work?
A: I would like to communicate my own reverence for God's creation, and to evoke some sense (other than visual) of the time, place, tempurature, the atmosphere of the place.
Q: Do you have a predetermined idea of what your finished work will be like, or do the ideas emerge in process?
A: I usually begin with a plan, but unless my goal is very specific, as with some commissioned paintings, I will frequently diverge from the plan as the painting progresses. There are also times when I start painting with no plan in mind at all; sometimes ideas form in this “color play”, resulting in a completed painting, but more often, it's added to a pile of interesting exercises!
Q: How would you describe your work to a visually disabled person?
A: A lot of my work is … “thick”! Not just a first impression, but several impressions, layered on top of one another!
Q: What are your goals for your work in the next few years?
A: As a gallery owner, representing multiple artists, I don't have as much time for painting as I would like. My goal over the next few years, is to “mature” the gallery, ultimately sharing it's management with a partner and/or staff. THEN, to “dig in” with my own painting... to push my chosen media, and to experiment with the ideas for “capturing the world on canvas” that constantly run through my brain!