I first saw Kathleen Howsare’s acrylic on canvas paintings at a pop-up art show in Leesburg, VA exhibiting several Loudoun County painters. Her artwork included Winter Sunrise, a stunning image of Pearl Farm in Northern Loudoun County which left me feeling homesick for days on my grandparent’s winter garden farm. That feeling was the painting talking to me, transferring the energy and emotion that Kathy originally invested in the painting; sincerity, authenticity and a wistful love for unheralded beauty.

Kathleen Howsare, Gingko Gold

Kathleen Howsare, Gingko Gold

Ms. Howsare paints images of the land and inhabitants of western and far north Loudoun County. The area includes the Blueridge, farmlands, Goose Creek and tributaries of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. The images are of remote natural places that few ever see in person and the paintings help the viewer feel present in a wonderous place. She paints in nature and from photos about the four seasons, magical mixes of shadow, reflection and the moods created when warmth grows cold and darkness turns to light.

Water is the most commonly represented element. But these are not images of the large, open lakes or the ocean. There are no trite sail boats or beach combers. Instead, Kathy’s characters are trees, trails, creek beds, rivulets and snow melt seeping through fallen stone. Her painting, Potomac inlet at Brunswick of a mostly frozen winter morning shows us the glorious transition from the inlet to a glassy half-mile wide water way to the bluish-purple shadows on the hills rising to meet a hazy yellow dawn sky. The inlet’s frozen but flowing constitution reminds us that nature is in constant transition from one state to something else.

Kathleen Howsare, Strong Silent Type

Kathleen Howsare, Strong Silent Type

Ms. Howsare’s landscapes and riverscapes are unusually intimate in that we feel gently swaddled in her dense foliage. She paints large old trees reaching out to embrace us. Her painting of a Grove of Gingko trees in full yellow bloom remind us of the strength and comfort we feel when in the company of friends. She is a skilled colorist, deftly working with orange and turquoise, violet and yellow, pink and lime with a subtlety similar to vocal harmony. Kathy’s compositions consume the canvas space in the same way our eyes are filled with trees while in the forest.

Kathleen Howsare, Potomac Inlet at Brunswick

Kathleen Howsare, Potomac Inlet at Brunswick

Kathleen Howsare acquired a BA in art from Mary Washington College and an MFA in painting from American University. Her work has been widely shown in festivals, galleries, group shows and non-traditional spaces in northern Virginia. Her June 2019 exhibit at Tryst Gallery in Leesburg showed more than 15 of her most recent paintings. She acknowledges that her work is influenced by the French Impressionists and it would be true to say that she is an American Impressionist. Education, achievement and influences help us understand how Kathleen Howsare came to the task of painting but it can not explain the feeling you will experience in the presence of her finished works. The German word for that feeling is “Waldeinsamkeit”. There is no English translation. The closest we have is the phrase “Alone in the woods. At one with the universe.”


“I have painted since I was very young. I have a brother who is 10 years older than me. He is a fabulous artist and I used to sit for him all the time. I was always enamored with his creativity and different painting styles”. She developed a strong sense of color from experimenting with big brothers paints when she had the opportunity. “I always tried to emulate him and spent a lot of time in nature drawing animals and trees”.

Predator Becomes Prey

Predator Becomes Prey


After college studies in computer programming, “I found myself in graphic design working at a company producing Video on Demand with Los Angeles producers at various networks. It was a fast-paced environment with a constant crush of creativity. I have worked in many different formats.” Eventually, she arrived at her contemporary style. “A lot of my work today reflects the computer work that I did with video”. She brings a natural talent to the task of making shadow like elements that are simplified, sophisticated and immediately understandable. Her works most often have a sense of humor and playfulness that enhances the silhouetted imagery.


 “I will start with a sketch from a photograph and then reduce that idea to a basic cartoon”. She knows where she wants to “take each piece of work”, defines the color scheme and then pours paint onto a canvas base. Stephanie draws that “cartoon” again with an X-acto knife and then removes a layer of poured paint to create the desired silhouette. The result is a sparse outline framing a silhouetted image but, instead of traditional black, it’s filled with a multicolored poured paint that looks more like it grew in place similar to how soap bubbles grow en masse.


Ethereal Beauty

Ethereal Beauty

She finishes each painting with a generous layer of clear resin that protects and enshrines the painted surface. The combined effect of paint poured on canvas board, layered extractions and glass like final coat make for a machine perfect presentation with few hints of the talented artist’s hand. She paints portraits of Andy Warhol, Joan Jett, Vivian Leigh, Gwen Stefanie and Veronica Lake; mega pop stars of their day but under Stephanie Hansen’s hand, updated with a sense of unrestrained feminine power.


Ch.. Ch.. Cherry Bomb

Ch.. Ch.. Cherry Bomb

 “I paint for me, paint what I like and paint to push social buttons”. She has produced a series of lip paintings reminiscent of a certain rock band’s 1960’s vinyl album cover with tongue and lips. Ms. Hansen’s lips are transformed and updated to include painted words, luxury brand logos and lush red drips of paint that fall from the mouth that could be cherry juice or something a bit more lethal (as in the triptych “Cherry Bomb”). “For me it’s beautiful. I wear red lips. I am drawn to that sensual image, and what it can communicate.” Stephanie Hansen’s “Pop Culture Exhibition” at Tryst Gallery in April 2019 featured her most current art works. Her work is also hung at several popular entertainment and dining venues around Loudoun County, Virginia.


Marcia Klioze says that she was always interested in drawing the human figure. At 17, she started college at Corcoran School of Art but left after two years because the educational focus was on abstract art rather than her interests in human representation. 1970 at the Corcoran was all about DC’s Color Field painters, Andy Warhol and abstraction. She would leave class to draw the people on the streets of Washington, DC. Her first paying job was as a caricature artist on the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD. That work led to her producing cartoons and editorial portraits for both major Washington DC newspapers. Several thousand sketches and drawn portraits have provided her true education in how to represent people, faces and figurative elements in her paintings. Today, in addition to producing art, Klioze teaches and hosts other Artist Workshops at Atelier In The Garage in Leesburg, VA. Affordable, affable and comfortable; these workshops offer an education opportunity for many skill levels.

Marcia Klioze, Kindred Spirits

Marcia Klioze, Kindred Spirits

The struggle between abstraction and the Artist’s desire to accurately depict a person’s physical likeness remains with Ms. Klioze even today. “Not until recently did I really appreciate where abstract painting comes from and that it is still representational.” She explains that successful portraiture begins with drawing and painting the basic “blocks” as she composes the image. “A painter starts with the big basic shapes of a figure and refines the work to the level of detail” we see when the work is finished. “Its what Picasso was doing when, as a Cubist, he depicted the nose pointing in one direction and the eyes looking the other way… showing how the face turns.” These early “sketches” on canvas are, as Marcia claims, are the abstract state of the portrait.

Marcia Klioze, Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Marcia Klioze, Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

What makes successful portrait painting so difficult to achieve is that our ability to recognize faces and personage is so highly developed that some neuro scientists believe it is humanity’s most evolved cognitive skill. Our infant ability to distinguish between our caregivers and a threat is directly linked to our survival as a species. Before we can speak or walk, we can recognize the nourishing protective parent that keeps us alive long enough to become self-defending. When we view contemporary art, facial recognition we know beyond a doubt that a portrait is accurate or contains that unique personal trait which confirms the image is our loved one or famous person and when it fails to do so.

Marcia Klioze, Dead Beets and Hot Tomatoes

Marcia Klioze, Dead Beets and Hot Tomatoes

To be sure, Ms. Klioze paints a broad range of subjects beyond the human form. Her paintings include still life, landscape, pets and animals in nature. All these works contain an elusive emotional character that elevates her painting from good to great. “My strength and my passion have always been in my ability to capture personality, or "essence." Marsha Klioze’s images convey personality and the emotion we feel when viewing that stunning sunset, the tense moment before a bird takes flight from its perch or painted red tomatoes so fresh the viewer salivates with the anticipation of their tartness.

Anne Stine, Living Water

Anne Stine paints in a medium that has been used for more than 2,000 years. Encaustic “paint” is heated beeswax and resin to which colored pigments are added. It must be kept hot enough to flow or it quickly hardens and becomes unworkable,

So, Anne paints with a blow torch!

Ms. Stine recently said that she learned how to paint with encaustic “in the life of hard knocks and hours and hours of playing with the medium, reading everything I could, looking at video by very generous artists on YouTube showing how to work with the medium. Then it came down to determining how I was going to use it and how I was going to get the expression and my interpretation.”

Anne Stine, Spring Thaw

Anne Stine, Spring Thaw

The work can be described as “organic” and there is a noticeable absence of the normal clues that an artist’s hand was involved. No tiny peeks of a pencil under-drawing or brushed on dollops of paint, dripped bits or thin washes. It is also apparent that the material was applied to the board with an intense energy that remains in the finished painting. The energy of Anne’s blow torch is palpable. It reaches toward the viewer and I have several times seen someone uninhibitedly reach back to touch and acknowledge that energy like we would a handshake.

We asked how and why she decided to paint what is a otherwise a huge challenge for almost every medium in painting. She answered, “First of all, working with the medium itself, because of its molten properties it flows like water. And when you apply it to the board, heating it, it will drip and ooze and cascade down the panel, so that immediately was inspiration. I thought if this flows like water, let me see what I can do to really make it move like water. There’s a beautiful sheen to encaustic, especially working with the layers of wax. I work with it pigmented and also work with clear medium. When I lay multiple layers, and I put anywhere from 1o to 20 layers on a painting, I’m also applying that clear medium to show the depth. I then gouge into it or sculpt into it to produce ripples and reflections.”

Anne Stine, Monet’s Dream

Anne Stine, Monet’s Dream

Anne Stine’s art work is at once of this world and other worldly. Her “Living Water” show of 16 paintings in December at Tryst Gallery in Leesburg included small 8-inch square pieces of serenity and larger works that seemed to be a direct window onto a dark ocean tempest. The surface of her paintings can be a cotton soft matte that emits almost no reflection or buffed finishes that reflect light as if in a lifting fog. The light effects help Ms. Stine achieve her intended sense of water in motion. Sometimes the imagery is literal and directly representational; believable to the point that I became mindful of my balance. Other pieces are much more abstract but always read like excited fluid that unexpectedly stopped. The viewer anticipates it may start to move again, soon.

Our Featured Artist for December 2018 is Anne Stine. Anne kindly shared her frequently asked questions about encaustic painting with us. To watch a video of her speaking at Tryst and sharing more about her process, click here

Anne Stine, Hypnotic Beauty, Encaustic on wood panel Size: 8 x 8 x 1.5

Anne Stine, Hypnotic Beauty, Encaustic on wood panel Size: 8 x 8 x 1.5

What is encaustic? The paint is made with a combination of pigment, purified beeswax and damar resin. I incorporate other media like oils or pastel, in or over the encaustic in my paintings.

Anne Stine, Encaustic on wood panel Size: 24 x 36 x 1.5 in

Anne Stine, Encaustic on wood panel Size: 24 x 36 x 1.5 in

Will the painting melt? No! You would have to use a blow torch or hot gun to make it melt. The resin mixed in with the wax gives it a strong enamel-like finish.

How do I care for it? Like any other fine art painting. I don’t recommend putting it in a hot car over a period of time- just like you wouldn’t do this for any fine art painting. It will not melt but may slightly shift if in 160 degree heat. It can be hung in bathrooms. If the surface shine dulls, this is normal for “new” paintings. It can be buffed with a soft rag to bring out the shine.

Anne Stine, Encaustic on wood panel 24 x 24 x 1.5 in

Anne Stine, Encaustic on wood panel 24 x 24 x 1.5 in

Does it last as long as other media? Yes, even longer. The anti fungal, anti bacterial natural of beeswax make it an excellent preservative. There are encaustic paintings dating back to 1 AD in museums today still having brilliant color.

For more information on Encaustic painting, please visit this Wikipedia article.

Meet Artist Leanne Fink

The central struggles for painters and producers of any art form are finding inspiration to create, deciding what to produce and why?  Leanne Fink is fond of Picasso’s quote “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” and in his words she finds some confirmation that art can be emotionally and physically healing. “Art speaks to our soul and we can feel it in our heart. I want my art to be uplifting and that’s why I use such a vibrant color palette.” All you need do is see one of Leanne’s paintings to feel that emotional transfer for yourself.

Tokyo Nights 72dpi.jpeg


Fink began producing art as a child and she credits her uncle, a landscape painter, and other family members for nurturing her early efforts. She and her uncle lived in the same house and he taught her oil painting. She “had a voracious interest as a child” and as she began to win art competitions, her parents supported her success by providing art supplies. As a teenager, her first commissioned works were black and white portraits of “rebels” for a local Irish Bar. Fink completed a BA in Fine Art and Communications and became an Art Director in New York City while she lived in New Jersey. She and her husband Richard opened an Advertising Agency in the 1980’s and says “the advertising business affected my art in that it taught a good sense of design, composition and media such as photography.”


When asked if she thought there were any original ideas, Fink says, “Yes, give 3 artists a germ of an idea and you will see each express the idea differently. I feel I am wired a certain way that influences my finished painting…it changes over time because of practice, learned skill, my methods and process that includes a lot of emphasis on sketching, underpainting, drawing the basic shapes, composing and then layering more and more detail. But there are always surprises that were not part of the original concept.”


Fink finds inspiration in nature, other painters work and, often, from her photography and photos taken by friends as they travel. Ms. Fink is also an art teacher in Loudoun County , VA and one of the most important lessons she provides regards “transformation” of those inspirational sources. She says, “I explore imagery and what’s banging around in my head. But, I alter those images and concepts to transform them into art. I am not bound by the composition of a reference photo and I’m willing to move a tree if it makes for a better painting.”


Leanne Fink is a seemingly fearless colorist. Her art depicts scenes that provide the viewer with an augmented experience. The sky may be blue in her landscape but it is a saturated blue that is of her making. Her work draws us in for a closer look the way extraordinary sunsets make most of us believe there is a higher power at work. Fink is no slave to the traditional rules of representational painting. The viewer certainly recognizes the subject matter but it is Leanne Fink’s powerful artistry that makes the art transcendent, exceptional and truly original.

Meet Artist Kevin Bednarz

I met Kevin Bednarz in 2008 at a group show in Leesburg, VA. His work was a clear departure from the landscapes, portraits and abstracts filling the rest of that space. We talked about his art, I bought one of his pieces and left the gallery thinking “all artists should be this easy to know”. Turns out, Kevin is rare in that way.

Bednarz is originally from New York state and now lives in Loudoun County where his FaceBook tagline reads “I own a bar, comic book shop & a convention. Artist. Father. Serial Entrepreneur. Don't knock the hustle.” So, it seemed appropriate to ask him to unpack that tagline a bit.

When asked how he became an artist, Kevin replied “I don’t think it was actually a decision. I was drawing since I could hold a pencil. My family were all artistic in some way.” He admits to being self taught by looking at comic books, art museums and libraries. “I took a couple of private lessons” but “the biggest thing  was finding someone I liked and then imitating them until I developed my own style.”

Kevin Bednarz_Retro Scream.jpg

Bednarz laughs when asked about his professional art efforts. “I wouldn’t even say that I’m a “professional” now. In college, I had an internship with an advertising agency but quit after about a week. I realized I didn’t want to be an art director. I started a graphic design company at Buffalo State College and began to produce sidewalk signs and flyers. That was my first professional art gig.” Kevin’s first shows were at the Brewerton Free Public Library in NY and at Albright-Knox Gallery where he showed his previous design and illustration work.

Bednarz’ art work runs in themes. “I like to paint a series of work. I’m into the Posca Pens I used for the most recent show at Tryst Gallery. I still think I’m searching for an ultimate style.” He draws much of his inspiration from the outside world. “Pop Culture for sure! When I saw Drew Brophy use the Posca Pens for surf art, his work spoke to me and I thought of how I could change the technique to do it my way. I’m always looking at other people’s work and I hope that people look at mine for inspiration as well.”

As a producer and consumer, Kevin embraces social media for the increased access to his and other art, “I’m a huge fan of Instagram and other social media. I think we are all going that way. But, nothing beats looking at a piece in person. Just like comic books and vinyl records won’t ever go away. There will always be a place for galleries. It will always be better to see paintings in person.”

Bednarz has bought art work made by some of his favorite contemporary producers. “I have bought more original art this year than ever before. I finally bought an original Drew Brophy and then a piece by one of my favorite artists, Jordan Nickel aka “Pose”, that’s one of my most prized possessions.

Kevi Bednarz’s art comes from his very skilled transformation of 20th century graphic and comic novel imagery. Spare outlines of the human form painted with punchy colors in layers that combine Warner Brothers comic characters with the girl next door caught with a look of surprise as she turns to first see the Creature from The Black Lagoon. These are NOT your grandmother’s landscape with fawn by pond. Instead, these paintings on canvas show a wide range of pop characters that have a multigenerational appeal reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons and sugary cereal with nothing more urgent to do than collecting that last spoon of milk.

A Conversation with Artist Anne Stine by Lisa Strout

How did you get started making art?

                       As a child, I painted as easily as breathing or skipping down the sidewalk. It just was a natural part of me. I was the kid signing up for every art class and workshop I could find. Later, I continued to pursue art instruction from master painters in college and beyond. For many years, I enjoyed a successful business career in arts marketing, but it wasn’t until I began a family did I pursue painting full time as an artist. I painted murals in homes and businesses for 15 years until three years ago I ventured into creating my own work.

Where did you grow up? How does that inform your work?

            I grew up in the same farmhouse where my father was raised in Fairfax, Virginia. Our three-acre property was a natural haven tucked away in a sprawling suburban landscape. My childhood days were spent playing in nearby creeks. Climbing pine trees. Making friends with little creatures. I capture this childlike wonder of the natural world in my art, inviting the viewer to escape the day to day and meditate on the vibrant color and the varied textures seen outside. Whether it’s of a feisty crow or a pastoral landscape, each painting is inspired by my love and awe of nature I hold deep in my heart.


Describe your work in general and the encaustic process.

I believe in embracing the unpredictable and taking creative risks. That's probably why I work in encaustic wax made from a  mixture of beeswax, resin and pigment.

When heated at a high temperature, encaustic flows like honey and moves in unexpected ways. I’m able to guide it along using torches and hot guns. I can sculpt into the surface and embed objects when the wax is still warm.  Once the heat is removed, it cools almost immediately leaving a solid surface with a beautiful sheen. Oil sticks, pastels, and pigmented shellac add even more color until the final painting holds up to twenty different layers each visible through one another. Cradled wood panels are the perfect foundation for my work because they can hold up to the rigorous manipulation of the medium and they are porous enough to securely hold the wax in place. Here’s a short video showing my process

I guess it’s the “not knowing what will happen next” that keeps me coming back and pushing the limits of this unpredictable medium. Now you know why my husband insists I have a GARAGE studio!


How do you choose your subject matter/ what inspires you?

         My inspiration is as close as outside my front door. I’m blessed to live in beautiful Western Loudoun County teaming with breathtaking scenery. My favorite pastime is hauling all the kids out on nature hikes in the local area to rekindle my creative spirit. Whenever I travel out of town, I make the time to personally experience the landscape and take photographs with my phone or camera to take back to the studio. I recently wrote a article about this process on my blog


What are you working on now?

As a mixed media artist, I'm always on the lookout for a new medium to play with. My latest obsession is cold wax mixed with oils and applied with a palette knife.  This media is allowing me to express a deep moody feeling in my paintings, especially with my ocean scenes. But I do miss the torch.


I participate in the Western Loudoun Artist Studio Tour (WLAST) held June 3 and 4, so I’m busy making a large assortment of mixed media paintings in a variety of sizes.


What 2 artists (living or dead) inspire you? Why?

When I was beginning my investigation of encaustics, I discovered two women artists whose work with the medium is very inspiring to me. Robin Luciano Beaty and Alicia Tormey paint natural themes with a contemporary edge. I love how Robin embeds organic materials into the wax and sculpts the surface for interesting textures. Alicia’s use of color is outstanding in her landscapes and floral paintings. I have to add Claude Monet as well -- my hero! You can see his influence in my pond paintings hanging at Tryst right now. I love his use of color.


What is your favorite color?

I don’t understand the question. People have a favorite color?

What are you reading?

“When in French: Love in Second Language”” by Laura Collins. I am a huge Francophile! The book is her story about living in Geneva without speaking the language and how her life is completely changed as a result. I would love to live in France one day, but my French stinks.


If you could invite any 2 people (living or dead) to coffee who would they be? Why?

Without hesitation -- my mother. She’s been gone 11 years now and I miss our coffee chats and how she made me laugh. Then, I would invite Betty White to join us (who is the spitting-image of my mother) and we would joke and laugh until Starbucks kicked us out. 

What do you want people to know about you that isn't art related.

It's a passion of mine to help people caring for their parents. I know the struggle and challenges of such an awesome responsibility firsthand while caring for my father for six years before his passing from dementia. During that time, I helped create a ministry for caregivers of aging parents in Leesburg. Several years later, I helped establish a ministry devoted to helping seniors in need in the Purcellville area. I believe that seniors and their caregivers need to be appreciated and supported.


Where can we see more of your art?

Purcellville studio by appointment


A Conversation with Artist Steve Loya by Lisa Strout

How did you get started making art?

Like most people, I started when I was very young. My first drawing was an attempt at a dinosaur, when I was about three-years-old. My dad brought home a big purple crayon and some big, lined “computer paper”. It was probably my earliest childhood memory, and I still have the drawing.


Where did you grow up?

I grew up on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, PA, mostly in a place called Cranberry Township. While it was a very suburban area, we still had lots of woods to explore.

How does that inform your work?

As kids, my brother and I spent a lot of time just playing in a nearby creek. I’d search for small critters like crayfish, leeches, water skimmers, salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles, etc. That early fascination with nature has stuck with me ever since.

Describe your work in general.

Some of my work can be more realistic, and some of it has more of an imaginary, surreal approach. I sometimes paint in acrylics or work in collage and mixed media, but much of the time you’ll find watercolor and Pigma Micron pen in my art. As far as subject matter, animals and wildlife tends to have a big influence.

How do you choose your subject matter?

It all depends on what captures my interest at the time, and if I feel there’s an urgency to communicate something to others visually.

What inspires you?

Other life forms and animal species and the roles they play on this Earth, and how we humans, as a species, relate to an impact the inhabitants we share (or don’t share) this world with. Music, nature, color and pop culture inspire me as well.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on a two-part series of works called the “Endangered Kingdom”. I’m also wrapping up work on what’s called an Alchemical Vessel for an upcoming exhibit at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery. I’m also working on a monthly collage collaboration project with a friend, inspired by music and mix-tape culture.

I’m familiar with your endangered series. Can you explain it for those who aren’t and tell us how you got the idea?

Every week, for almost a year now, I decided to focus on and draw a portrait of one animal on the Endangered Species list, as a way to educate myself, as well as raise some awareness, in my own small way. Each animal also gets a customized crown that says something about the animal, and brings a sense of importance and dignity to the beast. Each animal also finds itself on an imaginary place I call Splotch Monster Island, which is the more surreal and playful part of a two-pronged effort to inform the public through visual means. I believe we can all make a difference and have a positive impact on our world, in some small way, and art is one avenue for that kind of thing.

What 2 artists (living or dead) inspire you? Why?

My wife Kris, with her humble, gentle and playful approach to drawing and painting. Also, David Hockney, with his zeal, determination and unstoppable sense of curiosity, despite his old age.

What is your favorite color?


What are you reading?

The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau

If you could invite any 2 people (living or dead) to coffee who would they be? Why?

Sir David Attenborough and Eckhart Tolle, in hopes that some of their wisdom and knowledge might rub off on me.

What do you want people to know about you that isn’t art related?

I’m pretty good at beatboxing.

Where can we see more of your work? (website, FB, etc), and New websites to come soon!


January 18, 2017

First in a series of 12 very short films on my art and process. Produced in collaboration with Anthony Forcione / Karma Productions.  

The Second in the series, EQUUS:

Third in the Series, "Bones":

Susan Holloway's Visual Story Telling

SPOTLIGHT: Susan Holloway’s Visual Story Telling

By Lisa Strout, Gallery Manager

Susan Holloway’s art reflects the myriad of life experiences: personal stories, special places, significant events. She creates visual tapestries using narratives and symbols from a variety of cultures, religions, and literary traditions. Her bold and imaginative works of art capture core values and meaningful journeys. Each painting is inspired by what the world “offers and takes” from each of us.

How did you get started making art?

I am a trained graphic designer/art director and migrated to fine art around six years ago.

Describe your work in general.

I tell stories and create narratives using symbols, mythologies, and cultural icons.

I believe that everyone has a story, a personal journey that aches to be heard. And stories can be told about people, couples, families, corporations, illnesses, social issues and events.

These narratives make my art bright, intriguing, and thought provoking.

How do you choose your subject matter? How did you get interested in narrative art?

I choose subjects that emphasize cultural nuance and layered meaning.

I have produced narrative art and commissioned pieces focusing on organizational leadership, raising a family, comforting childhood fears, losing a child/parents, and suffering chronic diseases (COPD, schizophrenia).

Where did you learn the process of narrative art?

My graphic design background of listening to client objectives enables me to transform complex topics into compelling visual images. Meanwhile, my experience living in diverse foreign cultures heightens my appreciation of various art forms.

When doing a narrative piece, what kind of research do you have to do to discover the “right” symbolism?

I look for commonality across cultures and time. I explore etymologies and ask questions about “favorites” and “histories”. Often I make intense “gut-checks” and ask if my assumptions make sense. Rearranging the work and making multiple comps before producing the final product enable me to make the piece “right”.

Is all your work commissions or do you ever create a narrative that anyone would relate to?

Not all of my work is commissioned. For example, I produce works for thematic exhibitions such as my recent ensemble of pieces on global health at the National Institute Health.  However, I like the process of commissioned work very much. I had a client who commented that the piece I produced for her was wonderful because what she had on display was a self-portrait without it being obviously so. This client added that the commissioned narrative art piece gave her the option of sharing her story or not!

I have also sold work in galleries that spontaneously moved people who were naturally attracted to visual narratives that spoke to their own untold stories.

What inspires you?

Unique phrasing. Music lyrics. Intense color. Plans B,C, or D. Open spaces.

What 2 artists (living or dead) inspire you? Why?

Thomas Hart Benton/Grant Wood with their works depicting a historical era and changes in society.

Lisa Houck for her use of color.

A dark purple-red.

What are you reading?

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you could invite any 2 people (living or dead) to coffee who would they be? Why?

My maternal grandmother who told me in 1983 that she wished she too would have kept her maiden name when she married in 1935!

Rainer Maria Rilke simply to chat and let the conversation meander.

What are you working on right now?

I just started working on a piece I have provisionally titled “Bruised Feelings”. We will see where it leads me!

What do you want people to know about you that isn’t art related?

I overthink everything! I like watching nature shows. I journal daily. I follow the moon cycles.

Please come by Tryst to see the latest exhibit, NEXXT, which includes some of Susan’s lovely work. The next reception will be on First Friday, November 4, from 6 – 8PM. 

The Darkness of Depression by Susan Holloway

The Darkness of Depression by Susan Holloway

Spotlight-DeeDee Hooe "Was Drawn To It"

Lisa Strout, Art Consultant and Artist

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with local artist, DeeDee Hooe, who has three paintings in the current Tryst Gallery exhibit. DeeDee spent more than ten years as a muralist, working in both private homes and corporate environments, before she made the transition to working solely on canvas. Her work is uplifting, funky and makes me smile. I really enjoyed chatting with her; and finding out she is a dog lover (and rescuer) was icing on the cake. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

How did you get started making art?

I was drawn to it at six years old; I spent my childhood doing all sorts of creative things. When I had the opportunity to study art, I did so at Memphis State University, NOVA Community College, and I took some classes at The Corcoran. Years ago, I had a corporate job that became unrewarding, so I decided I would try to make a living doing wall murals. A muralist told me I should take Tole painting classes to help me learn shortcuts in mural painting.

After years of doing commissioned work, it took me awhile to find my voice as an artist. I looked at my passions, things that would keep me at the canvas and it clicked. I was finally able to paint for myself.

What is Tole painting?

Tole painting is German Folk painting that is basically a one stroke painting technique. You load

the brush certain ways to take in highlight, shading and base color all on one brush. The way you stroke gives you a blend. I don’t do Tole painting, but I incorporated some of those techniques into my own style.

Describe your work in general to people who have never seen it.

My work is contemporary and whimsical. I’m obsessed with nature as subject matter; I’m obsessed with the round shape. I like to sculpt with paint – make part of my painting three dimensional; I like exploring color and I like doing patterns. Oh - and the one piece bathing suit - I’m obsessed with that shape; I don’t know why, I just am.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by things I find in nature. Right now, for subject matter, I’m using rocks I brought home from Gloucester, MA, big beautiful granite rocks. Also, things related to the ocean and fresh waters too - crabs, frogs, etc. So that’s what inspires me - nature and round shapes, and that bathing suit.

What two artists influence you?

Early on, Georgia O’Keefe. Then I became very fond of Jennifer Bartlett. I currently have an interest in Romaine Brooks who has an exhibit in D.C.

What is your favorite color?

The tertiaries - magenta, turquoise and yellow green.

What are you reading?

Right now I’m into historical novels, but I did just purchase The Muse, which is a book about art; a novel about artists.

If you could invite any two people to coffee who would they be? Why?

I’d have to say Pablo Picasso; I would love to talk to him because of his intensity. And then, maybe the “Follow your Bliss” guy, author Joseph Campbell, see if I couldn’t get some answers.

What do you want people to know about you that isn’t art related?

That I am extremely passionate and concerned about our environment.  

Those trees - one of the pieces you have in the Tryst Gallery - how did you come up with that?

I love winter trees without leaves. The bark is fascinating. I’m a person who doesn’t focus on the big picture. I zero in on the details. I don’t just want to paint bark as it is. I can’t do it better than the tree.  I wanted to encourage the viewer to enjoy the amazing detail in the tree.  I assume if someone has seen the painting and found it interesting, then the next time they’re walking around and see bark it might connect.

When I was painting murals, I did a lot of nature scenes. I would talk to the people and tell them that even though most people assume tree trunks are brown, most really aren’t brown; they are grey. Young children always color them brown, and I thought, sometimes we don’t really look for ourselves we just get caught up in the status quo. So that is why that painting is all grey.

So what else are you painting? In the Gallery show, there’s the tree painting and two paintings of women in bathing suits. What are you working on now?

Well, the rocks. Right now, I’m doing them in a little bit of a representational style, but I might get a little crazy like I did with the trees, using my patterns to depict the rocks characteristics. I’m also doing more in the series of the one piece bathing suit because the shape of that bathing suit is such a nice color field for my patterns. I love roundness - the roundness of the bathing suit women and the roundness of the rocks.

Crab Suit, 24" X 36"

Crab Suit, 24" X 36"

If you haven’t visited Tryst gallery, I highly recommend you pop by and enjoy DeeDee’s work along with 30 other local artists. The show runs through the end of September and there is a First Friday reception on September 1 from 6PM - 9PM.