(The Last Example of Gratitude by Valerie Winterholler)
Valerie Winterholler is a Bend native that creates dynamic, contemporary acrylic paintings. Her style is totally her own and is sure to capture, captivate and mesmerize the mind.
As a child growing up, her mother would draw pictures of various things around their home. Valerie would color them and then they were made into lovely little books, capturing the budding art lover’s talents as well as many memories.
As Valerie grew up, her major influencers to the art world were Gerhardt Richter and Richard Diebenkorn. She says, “The first time I saw Richard Diebenkorn’s work, I was so struck by how the painting could evoke so much emotion without representing any actual place or subject. By only using color and line, he could knock the breath out of me. Gerhardt Richter has such power in his work, the amount of energy in his huge color-scapes is unreal and they just hold so much beauty.” Some of her other favorite artists over the years have been Picasso, O’Keefe, Korey Gulbrandson, April Coppini, Sara Pitman and Jamie Tomanek.
After high school, Valerie went on to college to study biology; she realized that this profession was not her calling and decided to take ceramics and sculpture classes. This was the spark. She made art her major, became an art class assistant and started to really paint after college in 2003.
Valerie finds her influence to be the art of Mother Nature now. She states that the great outdoors, the clouds and sky bring her much inspiration to create her own art. She loves the colors that nature gives us, ones “that hit you sideways,” as Valerie states. When she is out in the back country of Oregon, she loves to experience the mountains and how they evoke the feelings of singleness and how tiny we all really are. She uses this inspiration to work her paints on birch panels covered with clay to give her boards a very smooth surface. She was cleaning a clay board one day and accidentally made a very intriguing pattern and texture; thus her dynamic creation style was born. She makes sure her studio has the perfect amount of humidity to keep her paints at a gummy texture so she can work the paint, wash it back and use a mixture of acrylic crayons, pencils and scratching to create her exquisite pieces of art. Her favorite tool to use is actually a two inch house painting brush. It allows her to put the paint on in large strokes and has the ability to cover the canvas to perfection; then she uses a simple shop towel to wipe it away to give her the effect she is creating.
A painting is done when it gives Valerie a “settled feeling.” When the painting is still being worked, it gives her a feeling of anxiety. Once this is gone and there is peace, then the art is ready for its new forever home. One of her favorite paintings that she has created was, The Last Example of Gratitude. Valerie says that this painting had a good flow, “like a good glass of wine, from start to finish it was good all the way through.” She feels that it is important for an artist to paint from the soul, not for money or what others want, “All paintings should have a bit of the artists’ soul.” One of the best bits of advice that she has been given was to do her art for herself, nobody else. “If you are worried about selling, then it will never be.”
Valerie says that her art within our community is one that she hopes will bring people together — not to have a commentary but to have a quiet place to talk, converse — not be divisive. She hopes that in ten years she will be able to work full time on creating more masterpieces for all to enjoy.