I live on a rural island near Seattle where I am influenced both by
an intense immersion in nature and a close involvement in the process
of people's lives. Patterns fascinate me, in growing things and in
our lives, the way we address similar issues over and over, but differently
as events unfold. Hope and joy fascinate me, the way I see it in the
continual cycle of living things, and in the way for us humans it
is a reason to live and yet is such a challenge. I infuse these fascinations
into my abstract oil paintings as I build/subtract layer upon layer,
and pattern over pattern.
I have always been drawn to printmaking; the intriguing shift that
happens when pigment is transferred from one object to another. From
an early obsession with classic etching and lithography, I developed
an interest in the freedom and serendipity of monotype. Over the years
as a monotype artist and teacher I found myself wanting to create
artwork which did not have to be shown under glass and allowed development
of intense surface texture. I began creating images using oil paint
on prepared paper using monotype techniques without the press. The
work I have come up with is a continuing adventure as I stretch the
techniques that have interested me for years. Today I divide my time
between my painting studio nestled in the flower garden behind my
house and Quartermaster Press, a printmaking cooperative high on the
hill across the street overlooking Quartermaster harbor.
To create the oil paintings, I start by gessoeing heavy rag paper
on both sides. Then I dry it in blotters, creating a very flat surface
which will take a lot of abuse. Beginning with an under painting of
a fairly brilliant color, I build textures and colors slowly, using
both subtractive and additive processes. I apply paint with stencils
(lace, Japanese papers, found objects), stamps (hand-cut linoleum
blocks and commercially made patterns) and create textures by applying
paint both with a brush and with brayers. Of course, being oil paint,
each layer must dry several days before I can work on the piece again
so I tend to have many pieces going on in the studio at one time.
As in traditional monoprint, what is revealed in the subtractive process
often becomes the most exciting and unique aspect of the piece. Depending
on the piece I might choose to frame it under glass or attach it to
a wood panel and show it unframed. Larger paintings I work directly
on the wood panel, building it up in the same layers and varnishing
the finished painting.
When the paintings are done I take time to consider what they have
revealed to me. This is how the titles come about, and I feel they
are very important. Sometimes it could be a partially seen landscape
at a particular time of day (but of course the next time you look
at it, it is something else). Sometimes it is more of a remembered
emotion or an odd juxtaposition of reactions-whatever the human moment
I hope the viewer will have a chance to feel as though they are part
of what happens in the interpretation of the piece-it will become
part of their memory as well as mine...
Valerie Willson received a B.F.A. from the Portland Museum Art School
in Portland, OR in 1972. She also attended the North Carolina School
of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC; University of Oregon in Eugene,
OR and Southern Oregon College in Ashland, OR.. She taught printmaking
at Marylhurst College, The Portland Museum Art School and now gives
monoprint workshops at Quartermaster Press, the painstaking cooperative
she started on Vashon Island in 1994.
From the mid-70's to the present Valerie has had numerous group and
solo exhibitions throughout the Pacific Northwest, nationally and
internationally. Her works have appeared as illustrations in several
publications, have won many awards and appear in many public and private
collections, including the Portland Art Museum, Safeco Corporation
and Fred Meyer Charitable Trust.
Most recently Valerie has been selling her work through art festivals
across the country. Among others, she has shown at the Cherry Creek
Art Festival in Denver (work used as poster 1998), the Sausalito Art
Festival in Sausalito, the Saint Louis Art Festival in St. Louis and
The Brookside Art Festival in Kansas City.