Brenda Zappitell is our May 2012 Artist of the Month. Her mixed media painting, A Place Without Noise, is a finalist in the abstract/experimental category of The Artist’s Magazine’s 28th Annual Art Competition. “I work in acrylics and am an Abstract Expressionist painter. I love this genre because I can express my ideas and emotions freely and intuitively, outside the bounds of representational art,” says Zappitell.
Daily life with my family, the wonder of nature and my own emotions and experiences inspire me to create art. The marks I make are completely spontaneous and random, but sometimes in my work viewers see recognizable shapes or images that are meaningful to them. People have enthusiastically pointed out everything from hearts and clouds to the Virgin Mary in my paintings, none of which were intentional. But this is why abstract art is captivating and powerful: we each interpret a painting in a way that evokes an emotion we crave, solves a problem we have, or tells a story we need to hear.
Zappitell’s Painting Process
I work from a primal, emotional place within myself, although scenes in nature often influence my palette and glazes. Sometimes I work outdoors, so that I can experience nature directly– I’m always inspired by nature, in particular the sky. In this painting, I focused on the serene moments I have within myself when I work—those moments when time is suspended and my mind is still and silent.
I begin each painting with a limited palette and a large round brush, quickly making marks without thought in an intuitive manner. As I continue, I use a variety of tools such as different sized and shaped brushes, color shapers, the backs of brushes, paper towels, sponge brushes and spray bottles, to build layers both transparent and opaque.
I do use certain colors in my palette—a unique mixture that serves as my personal black, for instance—but every three to five paintings I change the palette, sometimes creating a fresh one or revisiting a favorite from the past. A Place Without Noise is one of three paintings with this particular complementary palette.
My work has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years. Generally speaking, I’m a prolific painter. I’ve developed a conversation with the paint, and now it flows quickly onto the surface as a result of this experience. However, it takes many, many layers of paint for the work to hold the resonance of the ideas I want to express. The drying time between layers requires me to work on several pieces at a time in order to be productive. I know a piece is finished when it reflects the sense of harmony I strive for in each painting.
How Zappitell Came to Art
I started painting over 20 years ago; at the time I was a lawyer and I felt something was missing in my life. While looking at paintings in an art gallery in Mexico, I thought, “I relate to this form of expression and feel I can do it myself!” Immediately, I enrolled in classes at The Boca Museum Art School and found a passion for painting that I never could have imagined. Over the years I’ve logged many hours in painting classes and have taken numerous workshops with wonderful instructors.
At present, I’m a full-time studio painter and am fortunate to be represented by many outstanding galleries throughout the United States. I recently finished a commission for MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and another commission for a private collector. I’m fortunate to be working with several art consultants on commercial projects. I love the challenge of working on a very large scale. It’s thrilling to be selected for this type of major project, where a large piece of my work will be included in an institution’s permanent collection.
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