Audra Ziegel: Using Texture to Combine Abstraction to Realism

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Oil Paintings

Nature is the color palette that oil painter Audra Ziegel dips into as she interprets the beauty of a simple flower petal, a vast mountain, or a burning sunset.

This self-taught painter from Illinois has been experimenting with extreme texture and color since 2002, always aiming to convey realism at a distance, and a whirlwind of abstract energy up close.

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It’s that epic battle for primacy in Audra’s paintings—a battle between abstraction and realism—that makes her paintings truly unique works of art.

For instance, I can’t stop marveling over the beautiful texture found in Best Irises, seen below. . . especially in each of the larger flowers.

Best Irises

Audra paints with abrupt, short strokes in varying directions and lengths, using an abundance of hues carefully arranged next to one another to create shadow and third dimensionality.

But texture abounds elsewhere, too. The trees in the background are painted with rippled, squiggly marks that remind me of the soft texture of yarn, similar to what you would see in quilting or long-stitch.

Much like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, this painting fits together stroke by stroke, piece by piece, until I am left with a finished image that is both a true likeness of nature’s own creation, and a unique work of art.

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In Rocky Ocean Scene, the tossing waves and ample use of cool blue tones give a blustery feel, as if a storm is on the horizon. Rich, mocha-colored mountains add a luxurious solidity to the painting, becoming the perfect complement to the jeweled turquoise water capped with white.

Closer in, however, the haphazard crashing and lapping of waves practically brings the smell of salt in the air, and the touch of sea spray falling around me. It’s a wonderful example of give and take. . . some strokes blend together to create harmony, while others stand out against each other, bringing a sense of dynamic strength and vitality.

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In this last painting, Red-Winged Blackbird, Audra’s thick, rough brushstrokes embody the characteristic of tree bark so perfectly, that the painting almost looks as though it was painted entirely on bark.

Besides the texture, I love that the negative space in this painting isn’t wasted on one solid color, but instead celebrates a range of bright pastels, surrounding one solitary black bird.

The tree branches also draw my eye to the bird and outward, helping me create a story in my mind that this creature is merely stopping for the view (and a quick rest) before continuing on to a lusher environment.

Be sure to visit Audra’s website to see her complete portfolio, filled with remarkable mountain scenes, vibrant sunsets and much, much more.

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