Oregon-based artist Shannon Willis has a rather unique set of accomplishments— currently she’s a professional artist, but while still in high school she discovered a new bacteria that eats oil (Pseudomonas cepacia SW3) which now bears her initials.
Shannon credits her interest in both science and art to her parents (her father is a sculptor and her mother is a painter and scientist) and has won awards for both throughout her life.
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Having chosen art as her primary field, however, Shannon now creates abstract mixed-media paintings chock-full of texture, color and sometimes a little chaos.
This first painting, entitled Above, is a good example of Shannon’s more subdued, yet fairly large, works.
I like the fact that although the painting is entirely abstract, there’s still a definite “landscape” vibe due to the composition and color scheme.
There’s also a slow change in texture—from the bottom of the painting to the horizon line—which adds to that landscape effect by giving a sense of distance and space to the piece as well.
Through the Trees, below, takes a different approach. Instead of using textural gradation to suggest depth, Shannon used areas of transparency.
Both the textural sections and transparent sections combine to give this piece its interesting, multi-dimensional feel. Texture always tends to feel fairly “in your face,” but so do objects that are strangely blurry, or see-through—perhaps even more so.
Hold your hand in front of your face and you’ll experience this phenomenon for yourself. It’ll be so close that you can still see past it, but blurrily.
After some reflection, I think that’s the thing that I like most about Shannon’s work. She continues to explore different ideas and processes, and seems to be consciously looking for interesting ways to achieve new textural elements in her art.
To illustrate: on her website she mentions a fascination with “old crumbling buildings and walls, where nature has started to reclaim its hold.” I won’t begin to guess at half the techniques she’s used in this next piece, but I can certainly guess the inspiration.
Entitled The Sun’s Ambition, this painting is an absolute feast for the eyes. It’s decayed, scarred and scorched, but fascinatingly beautiful all the same.
To see more of Shannon’s paintings or learn about recent and upcoming exhibits, please visit her website at ArtByShannonWillis.com.
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