2022 Artist Statements

Artist Statements

Deb Claire, Madison

Many forms of art have called to me ever since I was young. My parents had multiple artistic talents and all their offspring followed their lead. My father was inducted into the Wisconsin “Polka Hall of Fame” and my Mother was being groomed to be an opera singer when young. She was very clever with painting, sewing, soft sculpture, and floral design. Since we were surrounded by artistic activity, we just naturally indulged in it. My vision started deteriorating in grade school but I wasn’t diagnosed and found legally blind until age 16 while in driver’s ed. In spite of that, I still sought out art classes in high school, enjoying drawing, watercolors, oils, acrylic, and some 3D art. Even with central vision loss, I was still able to render realistic, detailed images. I continued classes in college, expanding to fiber art and carving. Eventually my vision declined to such an extent, I had to modify how I did it. I started cutting shapes out of colored paper which didn’t require realistic-looking objects. Now I even have trouble discerning color, so I have to label paint tubes carefully. My art has become more tactile, using wide brush strokes and finger painting. I believe my expressions are actually more authentic now because they are coming from a more spontaneous inspiration. I want to revisit 3D creations, something fun to focus on in the winter months ahead!

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Ellen Connor, Oregon

I have enjoyed photography since my children were young, when I photographed them for memories. As my vision decreased in the last several years, I began to use photography to enlarge details in nature that I couldn’t see anymore without the photograph. Modern camera technology does the focusing, since detail is blurry to me at distance. For example, I can see the form of a bird. With the camera, I capture the details and realize he is a nuthatch, or that the wildflower blowing in the wind is lobelia. This method has piqued my interest in color more and more.

My two pieces in the 2022 Gallery focus on the richness of color/texture (Dissection of Tulip) and natural sunlight (Summer Glow in the Cosmos). The tulip petal was the last remnant of a brilliant bouquet I got at a farmer’s market in Door County. I was surprised to discover smaller areas of color on the petal when I enlarged the photo. The cosmos with backlighting was part of a Pick Your Own patch of flowers at a Dane County farm.

Training I have received through WCBVI makes it possible to continue my work, adapt daily living, and continue to experience nature. I am grateful.

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Rosemary Fortney, Milwaukee

I enjoy creating an inspirational burst of prismatic colors portraying my creation of outer galaxies. It depicts for me an escape from human limitations and vision challenges of RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa. Having RP, I am very “light-dependent,” and my art images feature high contrast of bright colors against dark. Free movement in brushstrokes without hesitation allows me the freedom on canvas that moves more easily than I have with vision loss in physical, spatial surroundings.   With the confidence inspired by my artwork and my trusty guide dog, Vega, I have a greater desire to do so much more – perhaps than I would have accomplished without vision loss!

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Duncan Hamilton, Verona

I have severe dry macular degeneration, which although it allows me to see the world in general, makes reading and drawing in the usual way extremely difficult. Now I work with a table-mounted lens-lamp using oil pastels to make small abstract color compositions. My inspirations are two-fold. One is the infinite possibilities of color and design, and the other is the work of my fellow artists both past and present, famous or not. The internet, along with visual aids (a variety of magnifiers), allows me to study and enjoy art of all kinds. In conclusion, I salute all artists who create fine work regardless of any handicap. Carry on!

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Phyllis Jacobson, Mequon

Three months after retiring from 33 years of teaching, I took a watercolor course with a well-known Wisconsin artist and teacher, Jean Crane. I had never taken any art courses before this. Continued encouragement of other artists in class as well as taking another class from a nationally known artist and instructor Joyce Easley continued to inspire my artistic growth. I was smitten with creativity by making lines, color, forms, and textures into pictures. I primarily work with watercolor and drawing with pen and ink. What I enjoy painting most are Wisconsin’s nature scapes. I began to lose my vision due to glaucoma at the age of 50. About 5 years ago, doctors informed me that my glaucoma had moved into an advanced stage and I began to lose vision more quickly. Through the years, I have been treated with numerous surgeries and medication at the Wisconsin Eye Institute. Even with good care, my vision loss continued to progress. I now have no vision in my right eye and partial vision in my left. This has limited what I may be able to do in the future, but watercolor arts will forever remain a passion in my life as long as I have a sliver of vision.

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Isabel Kinerk, Lake Geneva

I’ve been drawing since I was very young, but digital illustration has been my medium of choice ever since I got my first drawing tablet during my last year of high school. Digital painting programs make creating art easier in many ways, but even just the ability to zoom in on a piece that I’m working on makes the process much more accessible for me. I always feel like I am well accommodated but still constantly challenged by the vast capabilities of digital painting software. I made these pieces to experiment with a digital coloring technique I had never used before. I first drew these in grayscale and then colored them using gradient mapping in Photoshop. I love vibrant colorful artwork but struggle with choosing interesting and cohesive color palettes, so using this method allowed me to try different color palette ideas very quickly.

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Eli Santin, Madison

My animation art is influenced mostly by classic animation of the 1940s and ‘50s, specifically Looney Tunes, MGM, and Disney. The types of drawings I do try to reflect the energy and chaos of great animation directors like Bob Clampett, combined with my own natural drawing sensibilities in the process. I enjoy drawing and studying animation because it gives me an escape from reality into a world of creativity and imagination. My 3D render art is inspired by my love of vintage computers and movie CGI. In fact, I construct my renders on a real vintage computer workstation that was built for such a task. I love working on old hardware because I feel like I am preserving the legacy and technology that has since been replaced by modern computers and cell phones.

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Mark Weber, Medford

Art has been a part of me since childhood. After several conditions and surgeries on my eyes, distorted tunnel vision remains (4% of visual field-look through the center of a paper towel roll.) While the visual aesthetic of my artwork remains, I find that I am working more with the tactile sculptural mediums of metal, wood, drywall mud…

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