Artist Stephanie Holman Thwaites offers a serene collection of nature-inspired paintings, created with oil and cold wax. To see more, please visit her website.
Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother is an artist, so I had abundant art supplies as a child. I was always curious, and creative experimentation was encouraged. As I grew up, I loved to draw and paint, but I was also very focused on academics. So, when I went to college at Yale, my plan was to study engineering or architecture.
In college, I took as many art classes as I could, and that is where I found the most motivation and joy. Just before my senior year, I switched my major to art. I am so thankful for this intensive fine arts background, where I developed my “eye” and built a strong understanding of color, composition and other elements of design.
Upon graduating, I worked as a creative director and brand manager, but as I moved up the corporate ladder, I felt less and less creative. After a twenty-year career, I left my job, got a studio and focused fully on painting.
In 2014, I moved to Northern California. Still fueled by curiosity, I took many classes and workshops, studying painting, printmaking, watercolor, fiber art, collage and encaustic. I often combined several mediums in my work. Although I sometimes worried that I was “all over the place” as I sought to find my unique voice, I was enjoying all that I was learning.
About four years ago, I discovered cold wax, a medium that can be mixed into oil paint and many other mediums, such as ink, graphite, powdered pigments, collage papers and more; enabling a great variety of techniques.
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With oil and cold wax, I felt like I had found the medium that was perfectly suited to my style and love of experimentation.
When I paint, I like to start with a strong concept, but not a fixed vision of the final piece. I almost never use brushes, instead favoring putty knives, squeegees, brayers and other found tools. Using these more “unpredictable” materials and techniques lead to unexpected results and “happy accidents” even though the process is never random.
I rely on my understanding of design, color and composition as I make decisions about my next step, responding to what occurs on the canvas with each layer. Color and texture are common elements in my work.
Most of my work is inspired by nature in some way. I especially love trees. Their strength, character and variety have made them a favorite subject since I was young. But I also remain drawn to architectural and geometric forms, with their order, structure and alignment. I often have both organic and geometric elements in my work.
My work can be representational or abstract; in either case, I work to create dynamic space that is intricate but also grounded. I want my viewers, when taking a close look at my work, to explore the depth of my paintings without becoming overwhelmed. In the end, I still want my art to offer a resting place.
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