The Simple Life

To capture her favorite season, Joanna Tlok created an image of silk, twisted into the shape of a tree. With writhing oranges, reds, yellows and browns, the tree looks as if it might sway, as if there’s a possibility of movement. “It was late winter and I missed fall,” says the Westland, Michigan artist. “I always return to painting fall’s landscape, with the fog, the sunbeams and of course, the color.” The result was Tree, below.

Some may think that Tlok’s use of fabric in her imaginative paintings has something to do with her background in fashion design. Perhaps. But it probably has more to do with fabric’s inherent interaction with light.

“Fabric generally defines light’s game by its own surface. Light can play on it but not through it. Silks send light off in an exciting shimmer, while rougher weaves give a softer image that can be subdued yet more profound,” she says. This is part of Tlok’s concept of placing focus on overlooked objects?things with which people eat, sleep, even clean. Keeping this in mind, even a lowly cleaning rag may have aesthetic appeal.

Working from displays rather than reference photos or sketches, Tlok changes elements to fit a mental image. She prefers to work in oils so she can take her time and not feel rushed. Oils also give her “inexhaustible possibilities to bring out colors.”

When creating the background for Tree left her stumped, she solved the problem by painting a landscape inspired by landscapes of her native Poland.

Her interest in art began at a young age, while working on a journal. “When I was seven years old, it was very popular in my native Poland for children to keep diaries, to which others would make contributions. When asked to make an entry in friend’s diary, my mother helped me compose a floral design.”

Drawing in the journals helped launch a lifetime of creativity. Creativity?and on the same note?discontent: “I’m never truly satisfied with the finished product, yet that’s what makes me anxious to start a new painting,” she says.

William Scott Jennings of Sedona, Arizona, is a master signature member of the Oil Painters of America and a signature member of the Laguna Plein Air painters Association. To see more of his work, visit his Web site:

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