Like many a plein air or studio landscape painter, Rebecca Crowell’s paintings arise from nature, or more specifically, from her emotional responses to the natural forms, colors, and atmospheres she connects with wherever she goes.
Her work, however, is non-representational, wholly abstract. She paints with oil paint and cold wax medium on panels. Cold wax medium is a bit like encaustic without fire. It’s a bleached beeswax mixed with a drying agent that allows Crowell to create rich, complex surfaces from multiple layers she builds up, scrapes back, semi-blends, and rubs, scratches, scrapes, gouges, and scores with a bevy of tools.
Her work is included in hundreds of art collections–private, public, and corporate, and she exhibits regularly in fine art galleries across the country.
Unlike those of the traditional landscapist, Crowell’s paintings are less like pictures than memory-collages, for they comprise the colors and textures of speciric bodies of water and sunsets, stone walls, bleached sands, cool ocean fogs and scarred cliff faces – embedded layerings and kaleidoscopic swirls and eddies of the natural world that testify to a soulful communion between the deep self and the land.
New Home – New Colors
Crowell recently moved to a new house in New Mexico from her Wisconsin home of 43 years. The emotions stirred up by the move inspired two new series of paintings – Place to Place and Chroma.
Each painting in Place to Place (such as Letting Go, above) “relates to a particular moment, emotion, thought, or memory from this time of upheaval and transition,” she says. “This series has been a way of processing the many changes brought on by the process of moving and living in a new place.”
The paintings in Chroma are her response to “the bright, arid days of summer in New Mexico,” Crowell says. “They were painted during the pandemic of 2020 and arose from an emotional desire for intense, luminous hues. Each is an exploration of the depth and variety that could be achieved within a limited color palette.”
Crowell ‘s paintings function more like poems than stories, resonant with emotions and experiences that wash over the viewer despite the absebnce of traditional motifs.
Crowell teaches and travels widely to parts of the world she feels drawn to. Prior to the pandemic, she spent time on the coast of Ireland and among the groves and ancient villages on the islands of Greece. Whether New Mexico or abroad, as an artist she actively seeks places where she can weave emotions, thoughts, memories, and formal ideas of luminosity and line into the intricate abstractions she’s known for.