Locations, life experience have influenced artist’s evolution
By Jason Dilts
Published Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, at 1:39 p.m.
Artist Stacy Renee aims to showcase the beauty and complexity of women.
Vibrant hues, artful fashion and conspicuous emotions color the canvass of her paintings, giving each work its own personality. Influenced by exotic locales and tempered by an insistence on detail, art always has been a central part of her life. Her latest exhibit, “Progression,” demonstrates her evolution has an artist. A Final Friday reception at Friends University will showcase her collection, with the show hanging through early March.
“I’ve worked internally on developing my style and what I want to put out there,” Renee said. “It’s the process of making the painting that has changed the most for me. The cool thing about the show is that it has pieces from the past and also my latest works. You can see how I’ve changed. My style has definitely progressed over the years.”
The 26-year-old said she has been drawing and painting since she was a child. Her mother was an art teacher, and she took several high school art classes. She does not have an art degree, but has developed a distinct style and creative process on her own.
Renee’s works focus heavily on bright colors and arresting images of different women. They have a distinctly vivacious quality that paints a tropical feel. Each woman has her own personality and each work its own temperature. “Rebel” features a golden-hued lady with a daring look and open jacket, perhaps ready to punch anyone who gets in her way. “Orbital” is a more introspective piece, with color swirling around a mindful figure. “Animate” brings to life a bronze-toned woman in a lively red dress. Renee developed the artistic vision for them while living in Puerto Rico. That vision progressed after her later move to Florida.
“It’s really colorful there. I’ve always loved fashion, and there were just so many great sources of inspiration around me,” she said. “I’ve always loved drawing and painting women, too. When I was little, I would draw Disney princesses. It all came together when I was in Puerto Rico. Then I moved to Florida. There’s a lot of nightlife there and a lot of live painting shows. I was fascinated by it all.”
Renee’s foray into the art world began in earnest while living in Miami. She did a lot of live paintings at night clubs and said her style really developed by the immediacy of making something in front of audiences in the span of a few hours. Her first public showing was in 2005 during Art Basel, an annual international winter art show in Miami featuring modern and contemporary works. She debuted at a gallery in the city’s famed Wynwood Arts District and sold her first painting for several thousand dollars.
Since moving to Wichita, she said her art has been greeted enthusiastically. Locally, she has shown at Rock Island Live, Alibi Room, Mead’s Corner, Melange Jewelry and at the Go Away Garage on Commerce Street. The show at Friends marks the first time she has showcased a wide sampling of her works through the years. More than a dozen paintings on canvass and Masonite are on display. She noted that her style and way of creating has changed quite a bit.
“I was moving toward ... becoming kind of a perfectionist. I was thinking that wasn’t really what I wanted to do, though,” she said. “I wanted to put the paint on there and enjoy it and not really care so much how clean it looks. My latest pieces, you can really see that. You can see the paint dripping on the Masonite. You can see the brushstrokes. You can see the creation process in the painting.
“Ultimately, I didn’t create the art. The art created me. It’s a life experience. It’s a whole process. I could not stop painting. I’d go crazy.”
Stacy Renee has been drawing and painting since she was three years old. As a young girl, she spent her time drawing Disney princesses, and in many ways her tastes haven’t so much changed as they have evolved. Replace the princesses with beautiful, colorful women from Florida and Puerto Rico—her biggest sources of inspiration—and you get what Stacy creates today.
In high school, Stacy took as many art classes as possible, where she focused mainly on portrait painting. When she graduated, she knew she wanted to explore and find her voice, so she headed to Florida, where she fell in love with the culture and bright, tropical colors. After only a month in Florida, she took another trip—this time to Puerto Rico—where she fell in love all over again and decided to stay for six months. Leaving Puerto Rico, she went back to Florida, where she lived for the next three years, diving into the South Beach scene, where she would do live performance painting. “I would be painting on the canvas and people would be talking about the painting as it was being made—that affected the painting.”
As the years in Florida passed, she realized that, of all places, she missed Wichita, and decided to come home.
“As soon as I got back, I heard of Final Friday and all the new gallery openings. I was really excited! I remember the first Final Friday I went on and thought ‘this is really cool!’”
Although back on the prairie, Stacy still paints in the bright, bold colors of Florida and Puerto Rico. She draws basic inspiration from fashion, particularly photos of models. She picks out photos that she likes, and translates them into color.
“The way I do my paintings—it’s a whole bunch of lines and colors put together, but it all makes this image. I want [the viewer] to feel like they’re experiencing the painting. When I create a painting, I do it in one sitting, and I put a lot of heart into it. When you’re looking at my painting, you get to know it, like you’re meeting a person.”