"For me it only becomes an artwork if it has the potential to have a lot of layers of meaning.
I have my themes that I always want to emphasize and I’m always looking for ways buoy those themes and so I’m on the look out. The aesthetics are never the thing that get me. It’s if there is something out there that I see that will speak to what I am already thinking about.
Memory plays a big part when I come back to my studio in what I want to infuse back into my paintings. So I know that it was a beautiful waterfall but its not about just a beautiful waterfall. Its about family, and trust, and memory of that beautiful walk. I’m probably the only one that knows that. But while I’m painting I’m definitely thinking about that and hoping I can infuse that kind of depth into my paintings."
Drawing and painting are a way for Valerie Fowler to be in the moment, to relax, and to get into the flow and journey of her art. She starts with an idea and then reacts to what happens next as the details evolve. It’s not just about the aesthetics but about her and the stories, memories, feelings, and themes, that she hopes to infuse into the work in a deep, honest, and meaningful way.
Early on in her career the work was more narrative, portraying dramatic scenes and psychologically charged persons and props, that often were representations of herself. As someone who was very shy it was a way for her to explore and talk about miscommunication and other issues important to her at the time.
With the happiness of starting a family and raising children her work became more botanically inspired, complex, and thematic, based on her garden and the nature surrounding her home. Initially what she captured was more a recording of what she saw in person but then it matured into mostly creating from memory.
With clean and precise edges and colors that pop she continues to create works that are intensely detailed and beautiful with layers of meaning beyond the obvious, but definitely relatable and understandable. The subjects are relevant to her past and present life and also reflect her concern for the state of nature and man's effect on the planet.
Valerie also collaborates with her husband Brian Beattie who is a musician and producer. Together they create storytelling performances that use a “Crankie” to display a long linear scrolled drawing that is accompanied by music. Her current project is based on a historic home in west Austin that is being turned into a museum. See the details below for this most recent project and how to see it in person.
Some of the subjects we discuss:
Figures and themes
Nature and death
Negotiating safe passage
Working from memory
The agave painting
Layers of meaning
Lake George Waterfall
Art at Flower Hill
The following text courtesy of the Facebook event page.
Valerie Fowler: Art at Flower Hill
Sept 1st-15th, 2018
The Neill-Cochran House Museum
2310 San Gabriel St, Austin, Texas 78705
Valerie Fowler has created a body of artworks: paintings, drawings and mixed media works, all inspired by the land and historic Austin home that is The Flower Hill Foundation. Formerly home to three generations of the Smoot family, now The Flower Hill Foundation (an Urban Homestead Museum) is striving to open its doors by Spring of 2019. A percentage of all artwork sales will go to the Flower Hill Foundation.
The Neill-Cochran House Museum will graciously be hosting the artworks - placed thoughtfully throughout its historic rooms - as well as all associated events.
The Opening Reception:
Saturday, Sept 1, 6-8pm
Including a "Crankie" performance by Fowler - "Flower Hill Crankie #1" - and accompanying live music - "The Flower Hill Suite" - written and performed by Brian Beattie and with a special guest vocalist - Plus Poetry!
Please join us! Light refreshments will be served.
$10 suggested donation benefits The Flower Hill Foundation
-RSVP for opening reception: flowerhillfoundation.org
Artist Talk with Crankie Performance:
Wednesday, Sept 12, doors, 5:30, talk and performance, 6-7pm
Note: All events take place at the Neill-Cochran House Museum, regular hours: Wed - Sun 1-4pm, $5 admission. Limited parking is available at the museum. Additional parking can be found at University Towers. There is an associated parking garage fee.
This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department and Big Medium.
Here are a few of the paintings mentioned in the interview.
Negotiating Safe Passage | oil on canvas | 36"x36" | 2008
Lake George Waterfall, Dedicated to C. Bruce Beattie | oil on canvas | 43"x37" | 2015
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Intro music generously provided by Stan KillianSupport Austin Art Talk Podcast