21 Artists to Watch in 2012
The last several years, Skinny Artist has published a list of “21 Amazing Artists to Watch” in an effort to recognize some of the best up and coming artists online, as well as a few who are already highly successful artists in their field. Now obviously we continue to keep a very close eye on all of the artists whom we have featured here in previous years, so they were not eligible to be included again on this year’s list. If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet some of these amazing artists, however, I would really encourage you to take the time to get to know them.
Now as we settle into 2012, I wanted to take a moment and share with you 21 more amazing artists who I have had the pleasure to get to know better over this past year. These are not just talented visual artists, writers, and photographers — but they are also extraordinary people.
These are the artists who are out there every day creating their art and offering encouragement to the rest of us through their blogs, Facebook updates, and Flickr photostreams. They understand the value of sharing their creative process and supporting the larger arts community around them, which in the end makes us all better artists.
I also wanted to say a special thank you to the lovely and talented artist Lani Woods (@artistlani) for allowing us to use her beautiful “Love” painting as the featured image for this year’s list. Lani is not only a gifted artist, but she is an exceptionally kind and generous friend as well, which is why she also happens to be one of the artists featured on this year’s list.
Now obviously these are not the only creative artists online who are worthy of being included. I will apologize in advance if I happened to overlook you or someone else you admire this year. There are so many deserving artists out there, but unfortunately it’s just not possible to include them all on a single list. If there is someone special you would like to recommend, however, please feel free to add him or her’s name in the comment section below.
[Hey featured artists! You can now show off your creative awesomeness with your very own “21 Artists to Watch” website badge! If you currently are (or have been) one of the artists featured on this list, be sure to grab yourself a website badge here, put it on your site, and soak up the love ]
21 Artists to Watch in 2012
In no particular order of awesomeness!
First of all, there’s little doubt that Maude intimately understands the art world inside and out. Having been both a gallery owner and an artist herself, she clearly knows what it takes to succeed. Maude understands that being a successful artists in not just about creating extraordinary artwork (which she does) but it’s also about making connections and building relationships with other people in the larger arts community as well.
Honestly as a painter, Maude’s extraordinary artistic talent defies categorization. At a time when so many visual artists seem to be specializing in order to carve out their creative niche, Maude continues to expand her repertoire and her work masterfully touches on everything from nature, to landscapes, to figurative, to my personal favorite which is her Surrealism & Fusion series.
Having said all of that, it’s not just her obvious talent at the easel that lands her on this particular list — it’s also her amazing ability to connect with others in a meaningful way. Rarely does a day go by when I haven’t received a friendly morning “wave” from Maude on Twitter or seen her recommending a few of our fellow artists on Facebook or her Google+ page. This is not simply some exercise in social media marketing, Maude does it because she truly loves bringing people together, which I’m quite certain is one of the reasons why she has been so successful as both an artist and a gallery owner. It’s also the reason that Maude deserves to be on the top of any list of artists to watch in 2012.
Naomi is a visual artist who may be based in Amsterdam but she is clearly a student of the entire world. In her own words she states that “I collage because it solves riddles in my life.” When you browse through her exquisite collection of mixed-media and digital artwork, you can begin to see how she brings all of these colors, shapes, images, and textures together to create pure visual poetry.
I found it interesting to discover that Naomi received her master’s degree in cinema studies because once you realize this, you begin to see that unique compositional eye of a cinematographer or a director at work. She’s a natural for using mixed-media whether it’s on wood, paper, canvas, or even in print, because she has the ability to see the natural relationship between all of these different forms, images, and textures. Naomi says that she likes “to pick up pieces, fragments, moments, memories, and dreams and remix them into different realities.” She is somehow able to find that hidden thread that ties all of these pieces together into one coherent theme.
I also really enjoy reading though Naomi’s fantastic art blog because it’s like being invited into the creative playground of her imagination. Much like her artwork, Naomi’s blog is always filled with this amazingly diverse collection of posts, poems, paintings, videos, and music. It’s here that you will find everything from Keats, to Goethe, to Madam Bovary, to Plato, to Nat King Cole. Naomi uses her blog as a creative storehouse where she is able to collect, deconstruct, and then re-imagine these sources into an entirely new perspectives that ultimately speaks in her own artistic voice. Not only is she an outstanding visual artist, but Naomi is also a kind and generous friend who is always there to offer an encouraging word on Twitter to anyone who may need it, which is just one more reason that Naomi will be an artist we will be watching closely in 2012.
Swarez is a visual artist and painter based in Gloucestershire. His artistic style is bold, colorful, and filled with passion – which as I have discovered, is very much like the man himself.
I’ve got to say that I’m usually not a big fan of most artist’s “About” or “Bio” page because they usually are written in that really awkward third person narrative that ends up sounding like a fairly bland resume. . . Having said, the visual artist Swarez has nailed it. He doesn’t fill his bio with a boring laundry list of awards and gallery showings, instead he has the audacity to speak directly to his fans and potential customers. In fact, he clearly states upfront . . .
“I don’t have any formal art training, and I’ve never studied technique or composition from anyone. Whatever comes out onto the canvas comes straight from my imagination.”
That’s not to say that Swarez is bashful about his work. In fact, he has an entire page dedicated to the “10 reasons why you should buy my art” He understands that he has a unique product that people aren’t going to be able to find anywhere else, so he just has fun with it. He knows that it’s possible to be a “serious” artist without having to be serious all the time. Just be you. Let your personality shine through your work as well as the content on your website. As Swarez says upfront, he’s not looking for mass market appeal, he’s all about expressing his passion for shape and color and then sharing that passion directly with his fans and potential customers.
By the way, if you want to see where the art world is heading online, spend a little time visiting his website and see how Swarez has managed to merge his creative soul with real-world business practices that work. Things like on-site checkout, free delivery (in the UK), “Try before you buy” (in-house consultation), and did I mention that he’s also got a money back guarantee?
Now I could go on and talk about his innovative child art education program or his multiple online blogs that he has wisely separated into art-related and non art-related topics, but we’ve simply run out of space. Swarez is an artist we will not only be watching in 2012, but we’ll probably be taking notes as well.
You can’t judge a book by its cover and you certainly can’t define an exceptionally talented artist like Mimulux in a few short sentences. By her own admission on her website, most her artwork would be considered “dark”. Not dark as in blood and gore or something that is there to shock or frighten you, but something far more subtle. It is an emotional darkness, or as she describes it “the dark side of life”. When you begin to look closely at her artwork, you begin to realize that there is so much more there than at first meets the eye.
When I first met Mimu I was immediately struck by the contrast between the dark nature of her artwork and her friendly (and dare I say downright cheery) personality. The more I thought about this, however, I realized how often we unfairly label artists by the nature of their work. We somehow expect a horror writer like Stephen King to be a satanic lunatic, while other authors such as Ernest Hemmingway, who had a rather unpleasant personality to say the least, gets a pass because of his more mainstream subject matter. Don’t be intimidated by her dark avatar, I’m quite certain that if you ever get the chance to talk with Mimu on Twitter, Facebook, or her art blog, you’ll discover as I have what a truly kind and beautiful personality she has.
Mimu has lived all around the world and is currently based in Hungary. As you look at the sheer variety of her amazing artwork, you can begin to see all of these different influences creating something powerful and uniquely her own. Far too many people mistake “dark” for colorless, and although Mimu does have several galleries of black and white images such as her beautifully haunting “Fog” series, pieces such as “Innuendo” and the visually stunning “Alberich” leaves little doubt that she’s also quite masterful with the use of color. As you spend some time browsing through her elegantly arranged art galleries, you begin to witness how effortlessly she seems to move between painting, digital illustrations, photography, and sometimes blending them all into something truly extraordinary, which is why Mimu will be an artist we will be watching closely in 2012
Allison is an amazing visual artist whose work reflects her deep love of the natural world and our intimate connection with it as human beings. Her work often intertwines animals, nature, and people that emphasizes our natural interdependence of these worlds. Her paintings are incredibly intricate and almost puzzle-like in their composition, which reveals not only a keen eye for detail, but also a remarkable sense of patience and perseverance, which is something to which I can only hope to aspire.
Like so many of the other artists on this list, Alli uses her website as a way to share her thoughts with her friends and fans by allowing us peek behind the proverbial curtain and better understand her creative process on her art blog. She doesn’t just use it to talk about her latest work, however, she uses it as a way to talk about some of the issues that so many of us creative souls deal with on a daily basis such as her recent post about the paralysis that can often come from having too many choices available.
Most days you can find Alli on her Facebook page or Twitter connecting with and sharing the work of other artists. Whether it’s giving art lessons to kids, or simply offering an encouraging word to others, she is always doing whatever she can to help others discover and follow their own creative path, which is (or at least should be) what social media is all about. Allison is an extraordinarily talented artist, a kind creative soul, and certainly an artist to watch in 2012.
Julie Anne Lindsey
I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be a big year for Julie as both a writer and author. Her first book “Bloom” was published in January and is now available on Amazon. Her second book “Death by Chocolate”, which is the first in her Killer Confections Saga, will soon be available.
To me Julie represents an entirely new breed of author and one we’re going to be seeing a lot more of in the coming years. You see instead of overwhelming random publishers with unsolicited manuscripts, Julie slowly built her reputation online and eventually she was able to find the perfect publisher for her work. And because she is already comfortable being online, I think she is probably more willing to take chances and experiment with new ideas and technologies as they come along. I particularly liked her innovative new “video trailer” for her upcoming book, which is also something I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future.
Quite honestly, however, it wasn’t Julie’s novels that made me initially notice her online as a writer (partly because she hadn’t written them yet) — it was her extraordinary personality. If you spend any amount of time on Twitter with Julie, you’ll quickly realize that she isn’t your stereotypical moody writer recluse. She’s a real person who, like so many of us, is trying everyday to find that delicate balance between handling our family responsibilities while still being able to pursue our own creative ambitions.
I also think that part of the reason that Julie connects so easily with the online writing community is not just because she’s a fan of “The Princess Bride” (which certainly can’t hurt), but simply because you can tell that she is being completely genuine. She allows us to get to know her by generously sharing her thoughts, her joys, and her frustrations on her awesome writing blog “Musings from the Slush Pile”. I am really looking forward to seeing what’s next for Julie this year both as a writer and as a friend, which is why she is without a doubt an artist to watch in 2012.
Bill is currently a visual artist based in Spokane, Washington but it wasn’t always this way. Bill, like so many other promising young artists, abandoned his art after life got in the way. . .
“I was on my way to building up a career in painting. I was selling paintings here and there and started to get my name out when life happened. You know how life can sometimes become a train wreck and you dangle off the trestle for a bit. It happened and part of the fallout from that was I turned my back on painting as a career for the next 15 years.”
Fortunately for us, however, that’s not the end of the story. Luckily the creative artist inside of him wouldn’t let him go. After turning 40, Bill decided to give in and follow his heart once again. In his own words, “It was time to suck it up and do what I was born to do.” A lot of Bill’s work focuses on wildlife and the freedom it can represent. Not just the physical freedom to go where they want to go, but also the freedom to follow their own path, to do and to live the life they were meant to live. You can see this theme throughout Bill’s artwork including his magnificent Black Series, which is both a study in physical contrasts as well as a closer examination of the light that often lies hidden within each of us.
It’s not simply Bill’s incredible artwork that lands him on this particular list, however, it’s also the level of introspection and reflection that he brings to both his work and his life as an artist. On his art blog Bill often talks about the inspiration behind some of his recent work and reflects on himself as an artist. A recent post he did entitled “A look back, looking forward and following your own path” is a perfect introduction to the way Bill approaches both his art and his second chance as an artist.
When I think about Bill’s story, I am reminded of that great quote by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke who once said, “You are not too old and it is not too late to dive into your depths where life calmly gives out it’s own secret.” Bill’s personal journey reminds us that it is never too late to follow our heart, which is why he will certainly be an artist to watch in 2012 and beyond.
First of all, let me just say that Sonia gets it. Unlike so many artists I’ve seen out there who see social media as just another way to market their work, Sonia realizes that that’s never what these sites like Twitter and Facebook were intended to be. Social media sites like these were designed for sharing and connecting with one another, not for thinly veiled sales pitches. Sonia understands this and in a world of that is far too often “get mine first”, Sonia’s extraordinary combination of generosity, sharing, and humility makes her stand out like the rare online jewel that she is.
Artistically, Sonia is on a spiritual and creative path that includes painting, photography, singing, and musical composition. The more that you get to know her, the more you realize that she is simply not interested in limiting herself as an artist or as a human being. She admits that she is on a journey of artistic exploration and experimentation, and she does not know where it will ultimately lead. I particularly like her spiritual photograph series “The Journey Within”, which is not geared toward any specific religion or belief system, but in her own words to “express the spirituality of the world around me and to challenge the observer with each piece.”
You can witness this idea of being a part of something larger than oneself throughout her entire body of work. Whether it’s the beautifully swirling colors or patterns in her abstracts or the tranquil solitude of her photographs, you begin to see that Sonia is challenging us to see the world through a new set of eyes. A world where we are brought together, not by what we can try to get from one another, but by what we are able to offer to the collective whole. Ultimately, it will be visionaries like Sonia who will be there to help show us the way, which is why she is certainly an artist we will be watching in 2012.
Sandra is a visual artist and designer based in Liverpool and quite frankly one of the nicest artists I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet online.
Although you might not ever realize it at first by talking with her, Sandra is disabled by a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia. Sandra says that she began creating art as a way to temporarily escape the painful physical reality of her situation. She says that it’s her hope that she will be able “to enable others to relate to the hidden world of chronic pain or to help them to slip away from the confinements of our own various views of reality.” By her example, she is hoping that other artists with physical disabilities will be able to find and adapt the tools necessary to create their own art and transcend their physical limitations.
Sandra says that many of her “artistic decisions are born of necessity, ruled by my physical limitations.” The technology of the iPhone and the iPad has allowed Sandra to begin exploring the burgeoning new artform of mobile digital art, which is a topic that she also explores in-depth weekly on her excellent art blog. Her art has allowed her to create and free herself in a way that was not previously possible. The colors she uses in her artwork are stunning and the compositions of her digital art are simply extraordinary.
For the first several months that I knew Sandra, however, I didn’t know anything about her physical limitations. She was just this friendly creative voice that I had gotten to know through our frequent conversations on Twitter and Facebook. Sandra always seemed to be there generously sharing the work of other creative souls whom she had met online, and in fact, many of the artists I have come to know on these sites have been through her excellent recommendations. Like so many other artists on this list, Sandra is a connector. She is someone who has this natural ability to bring people together both through her art and her amazing personality, which definitely makes Sandra an artist to watch in 2012.
Let me say upfront that Lisa is a fantastic visual artist, but honestly it’s her writing that brings me back to her website again and again. Lisa is what I like to call a “life artist” One of those precious individuals who is always examining, experimenting, and exploring their own life and then sharing those experiments with the rest of us. As Lisa says in the tag line of her blog, “It all begins with awareness“.
Like so many of us, Lisa is attempting to balance her creativity with the often frantic demands of family life (which somehow she makes sound soothing and manageable). In true Zen fashion, she has a way of turning these everyday moments of frustration or impatience into “awareness” moments, which are the invitation to see things from a different perspective. Now normally calm rational people like this drive me nuts because….well because I’m not one of them — but Lisa possesses this amazing ability to be both mindful and extremely likable all at the same time. I think that a lot of this has to do with the fact that although Lisa is always trying to be mindful and self-aware, she has been known to at times fall short like the rest of us. This is simply how life works. We try, we fail, and then we try again.
You see Lisa is not holding herself up as the perfect example, she is only recording her own efforts toward this ideal. It’s not about pursuing perfection, it’s more about being aware, being present in the moment, and striving towards right action. If you get a chance I would really encourage you to read some of her incredibly insightful articles like “The Dangers of Productivity” , “You Are What You Are” and “Choose Your Own Adventure”. Please keep in mind that this is just a somewhat random sampling. I could find dozens more that have inspired me and made me reflect upon my own life, but then I would probably never get around to finishing this post. Lisa is an artist who works on the largest canvas we have at our disposal, our own life. She is truly an amazing artist, a friend, and someone I will be watching and learning from in 2012. Namaste.
The more I get to know Ken, the more I begin to realize that there probably isn’t another person out there who has done as much to bring the online artist community together. There is no doubt that Ken is an amazing visual artist, but as we’ve said again and again on this site, that’s simply not enough anymore. The internet has become far too crowded and raw talent alone is rarely enough to get you noticed online. The ones who succeed these days are the ones who find a way to connect, share, and support other artists rather than constantly promoting themselves. Ken clearly understands this new culture of sharing, and you can see it everyday on his incredibly popular Facebook page and his daily Twitter updates. In fact he understands it so well, that he recently wrote an entire book about it called “The Art of Social Network Marketing” which if you have any interest in building your reputation online, I would highly recommend checking it out.
When you first see one of Ken’s beautiful floral paintings, you may think that you have seen something like it before — but then you look closer and you begin to realize that there’s something different about it. You might not even be able to put your finger on what exactly it is at first — maybe it’s his choice of colors, his shading, or maybe it’s his unique composition that makes these flowers appear as if they are ready to leap from the canvas. Ken has this incredible ability to take everyday objects that we far too often overlook, and transform them into something truly extraordinary. He forces us to see our world from an entirely new perspective, which is the role of any creative artist, and just one more reason why Ken will be an artist who we will be watching closely in 2012.
One of the things that I have always loved about watercolors is their unique ability to suggest rather than to shout. Where inks often serve to define and seperate space, watercolors blend and help to remind us that ultimately there is no space between this and that or you and I. Watercolors are all about the subtle nuances, the hints and whispers of an idea that we may not even fully understand. In other words, it’s a lot like life itself.
When I first encountered Jo-Ann’s exceptional watercolor artwork, I was immediately struck by its beautiful subtleties. Her “Angels” series in particular possesses this astonishing balance between form and shadow, that little gap that exists between what we know and see through our physical senses, and that which we feel and believe in our hearts. Her remarkable piece “Reflecting on an Apple” is another favorite that to me illustrates this subtle convergence between us and the natural world. Don’t get me wrong, Jo-Ann is not some ivory-towered philosopher attempting to realign our world philosophy (at least I don’t think so) — she is simply a humble artist who is busy exploring the world around her and describing what she sees with both her eyes and her heart.
Like so many of the other artists on this lists, Jo-Ann generously shares her work and the ideas behind her artwork on her art blog. It is here where you’ll be able to glimpse at the amazing personality behind the brush. Most days you can find Jo-Ann on Twitter and her Facebook page talking with or recommending the work of other artists. You can just tell that she really enjoys being a part of the larger artists community both online and off. Jo-Ann understands that artists thrive when they are able to share their ideas and feed off the creative energy around them, which is why she is certainly an artist that we will be watching closely in 2012.
I’ve always loved stone sculptures, but for whatever reason, I have always found them to be a bit inaccessible. I mean if you want to paint, you buy some paints and find something to paint on. If you want to write, you simply sit down and bang your head against the keyboard repeatedly. If you make a mistake along the way, you simply paint over it or hit the “delete” button. But when you are carving in stone like Jason does, there is precious little room for error because you are always removing material rather than adding to it. Not to mention the fact that this is not some soft malleable clay he’s working with, it’s cold hard break-your-toe rock! So let me just say up front that I greatly admire Jason as an artist who is willing to tackle this ancient and often unforgiving medium.
On Jason’s website there is a great quote from Rodin who is joking (I think) about the ease of chiseling and shaping stone, “I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.” Jason is not only a first-class stone sculptor, but he also has a way of making it look way too easy. As you browse through his online gallery, you begin to get the feeling as if you are looking inside a museum collection. His magnificent stone sculptures are both classic in design and yet completely modern at the same time.
Like several of the other artists featured on this list, Jason’s creative journey hasn’t always followed a straight path…
“Jason was hired to be the resident sculptor at the Thunder Bay Agate Mine. However, they needed more money than the Agate Mine was able to pay, to support his growing family. So, he began working in the forestry industry, planting and thinnning trees in the Great North Woods. These grueling jobs left him with little time and energy for his artwork or his family-life. . . . In 2008 Jason decided that he was finally ready; the time was right to pursue his goal of becoming a full-time professional sculptor. Carving rocks for a living has not been easy; obtaining a studio, tools, equipment and supplies while at the same time paying household bills, has been a challenge. Fortunately, he is an artist that loves a good challenge.”
As I read this and so many of the other artists biographies on this list, I couldn’t help but wonder how many creative artists this world has lost due to time and financial restraints that prevented them from pursuing their dream of becoming an artist? Fortunately for us, Jason is not one of them, and I can’t help but believe that he has a very bright future ahead of him. Jason is an exceptional artist and a truly amazing person whom I am honored to call my friend, so it’s no surprise that he will also be an artist we will be watching closely in 2012 and beyond.
Lani is a visual artist based in California whose beautiful paintings often reflect the awe-inspiring scenery and natural diversity of that particular state. When I look closely at Lani’s work you can’t help but see this distinctive sense of movement that comes from her bold swirling forms and thick luminous colors, that at times appear to be literally vibrating off the canvas. Her “Skies and Scapes” gallery is a great example of this visual poetry in motion.
Last year Lani decided to start creating some amazing time-lapse videos of her paintings and then post them on her popular YouTube channel. I am constantly surprised that more visual artists don’t take the time to do this type of thing. Now I realize that not all creative art forms translate well to time-lapse video (writing and photography come to mind) However if you are a painter, sculptor, illustrator, or any other type of artist whose work visually transforms over time — you really need to start thinking about ways in which you can better connect with your audience and honestly there’s no better way to do this than through online video [says the guy who is typing out the visually deficient 10,000 word article]
Now unless you’re Damien Hirst who thrives on controversy, you have to realize that sheer talent alone is no longer enough. As I’ve said before, you need to find a way to let your fans and potential clients into your world a bit. If you’re scared to death of talking on camera, you could always just put some music to it and put it out there online. The more you do it, the easier it will become. Eventually as you become more comfortable, you can start to do what Lani does throughout her own videos where she pauses in order to talk about some of her color choices or compositional details. Simply by creating these videos, Lani has transformed herself from the realm of yet another faceless talented visual artist (which the world is full of) to someone you can really get to know and admire as a person. When she’s not on YouTube, you can usually find Lani hanging out on Twitter or her Facebook page, promoting a local art charity and sharing the work of her fellow artists.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lani is also a devoted Star Wars aficionado which I think is important to note because we happen to have so few cool kids in our little club. Lani is an amazing artist, a kind and generous friend, a true Jedi warrior, and an artist we will be watching very closely in 2012.
As creative artists, not all of us have the time or ability to pursue our craft full-time. So many of us try to squeeze our art into those little idle moments of the day that may sometimes be found in those quiet pre-dawn hours, in the evening after working a full-time job, or even late at night after putting our kids to bed. We do it because it’s important to us. We do it because creativity has a way of not being ignored for long.
Cate is a mixed-media artist who knows what it’s like to balance the demands of daily life with the demands of her creative soul. She is widely known online as the “Shard Artist” (kind of sounds like a superhero doesn’t it?) and works primarily in mosaics due to the limited time and space that she currently has available to create her art. Don’t feel too sorry for Cate, however, because her mosaic artwork is spectacular. Here’s what Cate had to say about her work on her “Bits & Pieces” website in a terrific autobiographical post entitled “Finding the artist, one more time.”
“…After eight years of artistic celibacy; I’m not dead and my spirit thrives. It did, however, become evident during that time that making art is an essential part of who I am…. Mosaic art makes it possible to build and sculpt using mixed media, to play with colour, to be expressive, and as traditional or avant-garde as I choose. It can be done in a relatively small space and doesn’t require concentrated periods of time. So, I bought some books and started breaking things.”
One of the things that I like most about Cate’s story (besides her amazing personality) is the message that there is always room for some type of art in your life. Whether it’s painting, writing, photography, or music — If you are willing to open yourself up, the creative spirit will find a way to express itself.
Cate is once again finding her way as an artist and feeding her creative soul. Most days you can find Cate on Twitter or Facebook sharing the work of her fellow artists and encouraging others to follow their own dreams. Perhaps Cate summed up her creative renaissance best when she said, “It’s time to play again, and whatever the outcome, I’m having fun and feeling once again, like an artist.” It’s always great to hear about an artist who has rediscovered their art and the sheer joy of creating. It’s even better when that artist is as kind and talented as Cate Thomassen, which is why she will certainly be an artist to watch out for in 2012.
It’s apparently not enough that Danielle is this amazing visual artist who creates all of these gorgeous abstract paintings that have a way of tickling my literary soul with their unique symbolism, but when I discovered that she also lives in Hawaii, it all became a little unfair. Just saying.
Fortunately, Danielle is also one of the most nicest artists you’ll ever meet online. And even though you might think that she could sometimes feel isolated from the larger arts community because she lives in a palm tree filled paradise out in the middle of the Pacific ocean, but Danielle uses her Facebook page and her art blog to connect with her fans and fellow artists from around the world. As I’ve said before, because of sites like these, where you live is no longer as important as who you are as a person. It’s all about making those genuine connections online. As Danielle said herself in a recent interview Facebook has “allowed me to enjoy art from all over the world I wouldn’t otherwise see and put me in touch with some incredibly amazing artists.”
Maybe it’s just a result of a misspent liberal college education, but I have always been attracted to abstract art like Danielle’s that speaks a language of metaphoric symbol rather than pure visual form. Looking through her beautiful online art gallery, I am immediately struck by their clean minimalist feel. They are almost zen-like in their compositional simplicity but at the same time they also have this deep underlying complexity that’s hiding just beneath the surface waiting to be discovered, which is why Danielle will be an artist we will be watching closely in 2012.
Rachelle is an abstract visual artist based in North Yorkshire. I have to admit that I’ve been an admirer of Rachelle’s exquisite artwork for some time, however when I was researching her for this particular post, I was fascinated to learn about her dramatic artistic transformation from the world of wildlife figurative painter to abstract expressionist…
“My transition into abstract expressionism began at dawn break of the new millennium standing on an empty beach except for a stone cold sober me… The sky broke into iridescent shades and tones of orange changing in front of my eyes for every second that passed, there was no fine detail no obvious representation to speak of, just form and colour, freedom yet discipline that only nature can create and it was then I knew this was what I wanted to convey in my paintings.”
I was intrigued by this journey from the world of form to that of formlessness, from certainty to ambiguity. As I’ve said before, I have always been attracted to abstract work like Rachelle’s extraordinary “The Green Crabtree Falls” and the ethereal “Evangeline” for it’s ability to convey emotions through colors, shapes, and patterns rather than using iconic images which are far too often laden with their own emotional baggage.
Abstracts, to me, have always been like the Rorschach tests of the mind. Similar to poetry. You see what your imagination is willing and able to see at that moment. You provide your own context and as Rachelle states herself “the viewer can engage their own imagination rather than me putting it all into a nice neat box for them.”
Besides creating amazing art, Rachelle has also created something which I believe is sheer genius and something that every creative artist should have in his or her marketing arsenal — the video business card. Take a look at Rachelle’s video business card (she doesn’t actually call it that of course) on YouTube and you’ll begin to see just how powerful something like this can be. It’s simple enough that anyone could put one together, but think of how great it would be to include something like this on the “About” page of your website rather than some awkwardly worded artist statement. I could probably go on and tell you about how Rachelle is also one of the nicest people you’ll meet on Twitter, but we’ve simply run out of space, so let me just finish by saying that Rachelle is going to be an artist you’ll want to be watching closely in 2012.
Let me just start off by saying that Walt is an amazing visual artist and one of the first people I had the pleasure to meet when we first started up this website. Like so many of the other artists on this list, Walt is a master at what he does. He knows (or at least seems to know) exactly who he is as an artist. In his own words Walt states that . . .
“I’ve been making things for so long that I no longer need attend to my hands and eyes. They hold their own ongoing conversation with the materials, by turns laughing, weeping, speaking with carefully measured clarity, or simply crying out with utter abandon, while my subconscious just seeks,seeks,seeks…..struggling to clean the windshield….determined to keep scrubbing and scraping down to the true new old always present.”
To me that is a mark of a true artist. One who has given up trying to create something. One who has finally surrendered himself to his own creative spirit. And one who no longer considers himself the creator, but simply a channel for the creative force deep within. In order to get to this point, however, it takes both a mastery of your working tools and techniques, as well as a certain humbleness of character.
Not that any of this means that Walt has become immune to self-doubt. In one of his insightful art blog posts aptly titled “Savage Uncertainties. Fear and Loathing on the Long, Dark, and Lonesome Road Home” Walt talks about how he is “still a little taken aback sometime, even after so many years of this, at the angst and self-loathing that can ride up along side you like highwaymen in the night and steal the joy right out of your heart.” Unfortunately, no matter how far we walk down this dark creative path, we still continue to ride that emotional roller coaster that can takes us from the height of elation to the pit of despair and then back again until we feel like we may be sick to our stomach from the emotional whiplash.
Walt’s artwork seems to defy explanation because it seems to have been pulled directly from his subconscious and we are left without an interpreter. His work is filled with these striking swirling patterns, colors, and an eerie sense of symmetry… and then of course, there are the famous Pascoe saws. This remarkable contrast between the swirling softness and the jagged sharpness of the saws is only part of the Pascoe magic that pulls you in and makes you realize that you are looking at something that is far beyond interpretation. Trust me when I say that Walt Pascoe is an exceptional artist whom I have been watching for years, and if you haven’t already, you’ll certainly want to keep an eye on him in 2012.
Here’s what I love about Laurie, she clearly loves what she does. I mean she’s out there having fun while creating her art and it shows in everything she does whether it’s one of her signature lollipop paintings, an inspiring blog post, or one of her amazing videos. Laurie puts her heart and soul into everything she does which is why she is a postive creative force to be reckoned with.
You don’t have to spend too much time around here before you realize that Laurie feeds off the creative energy around her. Whether she is working in her studio with her friend and fellow creative conspirator Peggy Dyer, or putting on one of her innovative Live Painting events, Laurie puts her heart and creative soul into everything she does. Her artwork reflects all of this positive energy whether she is painting one of her exquisite poppies or one of her beautiful abstracts.
Beyond her seemingly endless supply of creative energy, one of the things that I admire about Laurie is how often she seeks out creative collaboration with others regardless if they are visual artists, photographers, musicians, or poets. Laurie says that “she feels that she shines her brightest when she finds other creative souls to conspire with.” In other words, it’s never just about her creating her next work, it’s about inspiring others to tap into their own creative potential as well. This is what great artists do. They constantly find ways to give back to the creative universe around them. Laurie understands that by encouraging, cultivating, and collaborating with other artists — we become better artists ourselves, which is why Laurie will certainly be an artist to watch in 2012.
Although I haven’t known Chris for as long as many of the other artists on this list, it hasn’t taken long to become a huge fan of him both as an artist and as a friend. As a painter, Chris works primarily with the human form which he notes is “perhaps the one thing we’ll never figure out, inside or out.” In the literary world, we might call these profound character studies. Whether it is film, art, literature, or (gulp!) reality television — it is always the memorable characters who pull us deeply into their world. They are archetypes of our own lives and imagination. These are characters who are reflecting upon their lives, their past decisions, and how they got to be where they currently are. We find them so fascinating and irresistible because we often recognize some small part of ourselves within them.
Back when I was teaching, as a creative writing exercise, we would often take pictures from magazines and create stories about them. What was their unique story? What was happening to them? Where do they go from here? Looking through some of Chris’s amazing artwork immediately brought this all back. His work captures something far deeper than an ordinary portrait. He has set out to capture not the face itself, but that which exists behind that face. With a stroke of his brush Chris has somehow managed to capture an entire personality, which is why he will certainly be an artist to watch in 2012.
They say that art is often the expression of raw emotion, but for visual artist Melanie Jai, it has become her life’s mission. Melanie is an Australian artist with a message. In her own words, she describes her work as “a mother’s heartfelt journey into the chaos and confusion of Autism Spectrum Disorder….
Knowing that your child is not, and never will be, what is considered ‘normal’ is very confronting and frightening. Painting has become my therapy, my vessel through which to feel what he feels, to attempt to understand his world in the hope that answers will present themselves. Using a highly stylised version of myself the artworks unfold through my eyes, yet tell his stories. Each artwork tackles a base emotion that we all experience at some time, the difference being that ASD sufferers experience these strong emotions all the time. I have chosen to share these emotions, in the hope of inspiring understanding, compassion and acceptance for those who struggle to communicate these emotions themselves.”
When I first encountered Melanie’s powerful artwork, I did not realize any of this of course, it was her unique and distinctive style that had first attracted my attention. As I browsed through her online art portfolio, I became captivated at how each one of her paintings evoked a mood or emotional situation so perfectly. Her extraordinary artwork are whimsical and powerful statements of both our deepest fears and our greatest hopes. They are visual stories and emotional snapshots, that in her own words, are “raw, sometimes gentle and nurturing, other times blatant and unforgiving, but always real and pure.”
As she says herself, however, “this story far from gloom and doom. It is primarily a celebration of the struggles and triumphs of these unique, beautiful children who have this condition. Children who grow to shape this world, to challenge our way of thinking, to show us what it is to have integrity, honesty, purity of thought, astounding intelligence, freedom from prejudice, and total devotion. They are truly inspirational.”
She is right of course. As both creative artists and human beings, I believe that all of us have within us our own unique stories to share with the world. And for every artist like Melanie who may have found their story to tell, there are many of us who are still out there searching for our own unique voice. I greatly admire Melanie as both an artist and as a parent, which is why she will certainly be an artist that we will be watching in 2012.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed getting to know these 21 talented artists a little better. Even though I regret every year having to leave out so many deserving artists, it is an honor and a privilege to be able to share these extraordinary individuals with you. Thank you again for being a part of our Skinny Artist community 🙂
About the Author
Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His new book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.