Chris LaValley

Chris LaValley
Now Showing!
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 to Friday, June 28, 2019
Oak Park Library

Chris received her BFA in Painting and Drawing from the Kansas City Art Institute, her MA in Art Education and Ceramics from the University of New Mexico and currently teaches at Blue Valley Northwest High School. By day she helps kids dive deeper into the world of ceramics and painting and by all other hours, she works on her own 2D and 3D artworks.

She states: My work is inspired by the complexity and beauty of nature, from minute details of plant and animal cells to large expanses of land and space. The topography of the land, the open spaces, the small details, the rhythm and pulse of the earth, the rich tones of color, the regeneration of life, and my individual experiences have influenced my personal mythology made up of symbolism and marks.

My current work focuses on observing nature and the environment. Studying subtle nuances of color and line, detail and form, I use watercolor, occasionally with the addition of linear ink elements. The speed at which I can work back in layering and adding color and value has allowed my first inspiration to stay fresh in my mind, and I find the smaller, more intimate scale provoking, drawing the viewer closer to see the subtle details and nuances not visible from a distance.

Enjoy this exhibition through June 28.

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Tell us about the works on exhibit. What’s the medium? What has inspired their creation?

My work has always been inspired by the complexity and beauty of nature. The work I have on exhibit focuses on my observations of nature and the environments I see around me. I am interested in the subtle nuances of color and line, detail and form. These particular works are rendered in watercolor, occasionally with the addition of linear ink elements. I have found that utilizing watercolor, after years of working in oils, has been liberating. The speed at which I can work back in layering and adding color and value has allowed my first inspiration to stay fresh in my mind. I find the smaller, more intimate scale provoking; drawing the viewer closer in to see the subtle details and nuances not visible from a distance.

What was the most important thing you learned from your arts education? What’s something inherent in your art that couldn’t be taught?

The most important thing I learned in my education in the arts would be to not be afraid to make mistakes, for in those mistakes there is growth. Also, to never stop learning and trying new media and methods of working.

I would say something inherent in my art that couldn't be taught would be the intuitive way I work. Most of the time when I start a new piece I only have a small idea what I want to accomplish-I let the work and the marks created guide me.

Describe your creative process. How often are you painting and where is your studio?

Depending on what I'm working on my process can vary. When I am working on my watercolor pieces I am sitting at a table in my studio. I usually have a vague idea how I want to start-sometimes a photo reference. I begin usually with applying a water area to the paper and adding my color into it-then letting it dry before moving on. I usually have at least 2 works in progress so I can continue to work as one dries. I continue to add color areas and work back into existing dry areas until I feel it is complete. Occasionally I will work back in with linear ink lines.

My studio is located in my house. It has two wonderful windows-one facing south and one west. It really is my comfort place-filled with books, vinyl, art supplies and art work given to be by previous students. I try to be in my studio as much as possible. It can be difficult during the school year (I'm a high school art teacher), but I do manage to be in there at least 2 days a week-definitely more in the summer where I'm there just about every day.

Please list 5-10 books, movies and/or music that currently inspire you.

I have so many books--but these are ones I am currently looking at/reading:

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Paintings for the Future by Hilma af Klint

Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel

New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail

As far as music, I have very eclectic tastes. I listen to just about everything. What I play at a given time depends a lot on my mood and what I am working on. If I'm at a table working on watercolor pieces I tend to listen to something quieter like Tori Amos, Ben Harper or Coldplay. If I'm working at my easel and standing it tend to be more fast paced like some alternative 80s, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac or U2.

  • Chris LaValley
    Chris LaValley Chris LaValley
  • Chris LaValley
    Chris LaValley Chris LaValley