acrylic painting, biology, color relationships, docent, drawing, empathy, essence of a moment, gestural figurative paintings, Giant, health professional, improvisation, Marfa, mixed media textures, monotype printmaking, Observations, Paula Lantz, plan of action, ranchers, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, spontaneity, temperament, Texas, Texas sunsets, touchstone gallery, University of Colorado
Paula is one of those rare persons who can make and follow a detailed plan of action and yet act spontaneously in the next moment. For the first half of her professional life, she focused on corporate jobs as a “structural planner” of employee self-improvement programs. In the second half she became an abstract painter. Perhaps these seemingly contradictory abilities are innate, or perhaps she learned them along the way.
Paula’s life began in Marfa, Texas, a small town in the high desert of the Trans-Pecos, located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park. Her family were ranchers. Marfa was a quiet place whose population numbered around 1900 folks. It’s claim to fame is that the movie “Giant” was (appropriately) filmed there.
As often happens in this giant territory, rains cease, long droughts set in and some ranchers lose their shirts. Luckily Paula’s father had a college degree in accounting, so when their ranch dried up, he found a fiscal job in Columbia, South America, and took the family with him. Paula spent the next 10 years traveling between a boarding school in Charleston, SC and her Columbian home, voyages that sparked a life-long love of travel. Her college years were spent at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Equipped with a masters degree in health, Paula settled on the east coast to begin a double career as mother and health professional. Paula became a designer of smoking cessation and employee fitness programs for the corporate world as well as for hospitals in Northern Virginia and Maryland. After 20 plus years in this field, Paula turned those organizational skills in a different direction, designing a two-part art plan for herself! She decided (1) to be a docent at one of DC’s art museums, and (2) to began taking art classes.
Paula followed her plan and has been a docent at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art for 20 years. Art classes continued parallel to the docent job. She learned from Alice Neal, Andy Warhol, the Impressionists, Bonnard, Diebenkorn, Matisse and so many others while exploring monotype printmaking, mixed media materials, and painting. The drawing she began in college anatomy classes evolved into new ways of seeing. “But nothing is ever lost or goes away,” she notes. Along the way Paula became an artist using the bold intense color relationships she saw in the Texas sunsets of her youth. Add to that use of mixed media texture and a sensibility for abstraction and non-representation.
In her solo exhibit of dramatic psychological portraits, Observations, Paula leaves organizational structures behind, improvises, plumbs the depths of her travel experiences and paints abstractly the people she observes. With brush dipped in acrylic paint and empathy in hand, her creativity pours forth energy and color in a spontaneous yet cohesive way, capturing the temperament of ordinary people– the essence of a moment in their life onto the canvas in a powerful way. Her nine gestural figurative paintings will be on exhibit at Touchstone Gallery December 3-28, 2014. The opening reception is Friday, Dec. 5 from 6-8:30 pm. 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC. Rosemary Luckett