Create powerful magic realism in acrylic. As a child, drawn to figurative art and creating hers of her visual narratives, she loved painting above all else. And so, her decision to follow that passion at all costs evolved naturally. Growing up, I made countless colorful drawings of scenes and people. I often do detailed illustrations to accompany my writing homework at school. The largely self-taught artist began painting in earnest around the age of 12 after obtaining his first canvas and a set of acrylic paints. I spent all my summer vacations in elementary school painting with the old masters as guides. I tried to replicate the realism of the famous paintings that you see in the books. However, it wasn’t until high school, after receiving numerous regional and national accolades from the Scholastic Art Awards, that I also realized, okay, this is something I love to do. Now I feel destined to do it.
And fate will continue to be kind to the emerging painter. He continued to earn major industry awards and scholarships; have numerous personal, group, and museum exhibitions; Illustrated two books and be ranked in the top 2% of young American talents as a 2005 award winner and a National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts alumnus. In 2014, Kowch was one of eight American artists selected nationally by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Jacksonville, Florida, to represent contemporary realist painting in America today.
Her praise aside, the artist, who she says drives him to paint, also admits that she too has an obsessive need to exceed her expectations. Throwing myself fully into my paintings, I spend days immersed in the progression of my work. I will reflect, evaluate, refine, refine, evolve, explore, and think. The list is endless. All I know is that I do what I do because I just have to.
Cultivate a plot
Andrea Kowch, known for creating powerful magical realism, enchants viewers with her. She is a master at building an undercurrent of mystery, palpable tension, symbolism, and an irresistible foreboding, all carefully crafted before even painting on canvas. My process involves the full range of thinking, research, photography, and cool drawings. I like to get into my zone by playing my favorite music and feeling my way into a concept.
Then I jot down several words and make lists, an ordinary style of conscience. Sometimes you need to push the campaign to update and generate new ideas. Other times, the images flash in my mind in their entirety. Once I feel an argument is solid enough to pursue it, I brainstorm the compositions through raw miniatures. Then I put the clothes together and organized a photoshoot with my models.
A practical approach
Kowch then selects the best shots from him. To get an idea of whether or not all the elements will work together, he makes a quick model of a scene using various photographic references that he took. That way, when it’s a chance to make a major developed drawing, you can finalize the placement of all the details to complete your vision, fixing any issues ahead of time and limiting the possibility of unwanted surprises sprouting up. Later in the painting process. Any change between the final drawing and the final painting is produced by a myriad of factors, from a change in concept to a change in composition, whatever the goal at the time. Once I move across the canvas and start to freeze, the actual painting is on its way to completion.
The emotion is sparkling. At this period, the pace starts to relax as Kowch concentrates on detail work. Eventually, this will merge into the ‘touch-up’ (and final) stage. It is the time to rework, refine, and critique the results until you are satisfied that everything is polished and finished. However, getting to that point can be unpredictable, taking anywhere from a few days to a few more weeks. At the same time, I have to be aware of the ever-present danger of overwork, adding that a new perspective helps avoid this trap. Therefore, he often observes a piece from afar and under various types of lighting while it is in progress.
All in tandem
Explaining her preference for acrylics over oils, Andrea Kowch admits: I have developed a level of familiarity and comfort with them over the years; I love their versatility (which allows me to layer and create details), time quick drying, and the fact that they are non-toxic, which is extremely important to me and the environment. However, unlike many artists, he does not mix mediums in his paintings to keep them wet for longer, nor does he premix colors, preferring to invent combinations while painting. Speaking of other aspects of his process: When it comes to creating my paintings, everything works together, really. Each painting is in some way an extension of the other. As snapshots of a larger story, they are all various chapters on the web that are my life and my reflections.
His journey is a common thread that leads through his work. Kowch says that he spends a lot of time in silence in his studio, ordering chaos and chaos out of order to excite the viewers’ senses, igniting their imaginations, and transporting them on a journey into his dream and symbolic world. When creating visual narratives, I want people to see all the components of our nature in a universal light. Some may see my work as intense or disturbing. Others may see it as beautiful and liberating. Everything is a matter of perception. My job is not to dictate; it is to open minds and invite dialogue.
Old, new, unexpected
To this end, striving to ensure that the deeper concepts in work remain fluid and open to interpretation, Kowch has developed a refined eye regarding what draws them visually and emotionally but results in a captivating allegory. In particular, I like to draw inspiration from different parts of history and other eras and the bleak and expansive landscapes of rural America, where I find parallels to the human condition in many profound ways. Combining these elements plays an important role in my work. I learn to mix styles, scenes, and periods to create contemporary work that remains a timeless ensemble of old, new, and then unexpected.
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