Enjoy the vibrant and joyful artwork of Dorothy Siemens, created by combining oil paint and cold wax. See more work by this artist by visiting her website.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t creative. Actively encouraged from a young age, I grew up in a home where our best toys and games were often ones we invented ourselves. In high school, when I was dissatisfied with the level of art instruction, my parents arranged for me to take weekly art lessons with a working commercial artist. Later, I studied at the Toronto Three Schools of Art and then attended the Ontario College of Art and Design (now university).
Graduating in 1985, I embarked on career as a graphic designer and then as an illustrator of children’s textbooks, specializing in nature art.
Eventually, I felt a great urge to move away from the very detailed, realistic nature art I’d been doing with watercolours and pencil crayons and work larger, bolder and more freely. I also wanted to create art that satisfied my soul, rather than an art director’s brief.
A few years ago I decided to focus all my energy on fine art. For a couple of years I had a grand time experimenting with materials and styles, painting non-representational abstracts in acrylics on oversized canvases.
Even though it was fun I floundered a bit, struggling to create art that would reflect my unique voice. Admittedly, when you’re trying a lot of different things, your style tends to be all over the place. I found my voice (or it found me) after the convergence of two things: one day I discovered the medium of oil paint and cold wax, and I loved it!
This coincided with a physical move from the big city of Toronto to the small town of Port Hope. My fantastic studio space looking out over a ravine to Lake Ontario brought nature right to my doorstep. Nature imagery seemed to insist on finding its way into my work again.
I find oil and cold wax to be extremely responsive, allowing me to layer colours with a palette knife in an impasto technique or apply them thinly and translucently with a roller or squeegee.
The paint dries slower than acrylics, allowing me to change my mind, easily scrape back, or etch into the paint to reveal the colours beneath. I can combine it with oil sticks, giving me the flexibility to draw or colour in.
I use various tools to mark, scratch and add texture and interest to the surface. Even though nature is my inspiration, my imagery comes from my imagination, where nature is infinitely bolder and more vivid.
I always enjoy the reactions of people who see my art for the first time. I often hear the phrases, “I love the colours,” and “Your work is so joyful.” I like that my work brings a smile to people’s faces and leaves them feeling happy and uplifted.
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