About Denise

 

17In 2012 I simultaneously experienced the most devastating and joyful moments of my life– my son was born, and I lost my marriage. By 2014 I was making art every day as a way to navigate the strange, challenging and surprisingly beautiful terrains of grief, single parenting, and being a sole provider.

My first painting subject was the pelicans I would watch from my porch on Bayou St. John in New Orleans. Prior to my son’s birth, I experienced several pregnancy losses. Watching the pelicans dive for food gave me peace when life felt most beyond my control. I loved the precision with which their beaks pierced the water. I loved the power I witnessed when they created a splash that disrupted previously still water. I watched them dive repeatedly. Sometimes they’d come up empty-handed, and I admired their persistence.

My divorce brought me away from that porch in New Orleans where I’d fallen in love with the pelicans back to Mandeville where I’d grown up. It was in Mandeville that I started creating art daily. I initially thought I was just attracted to the beauty of the pelicans I’d been watching for years prior, but  now I know that what I loved most was their agency. I started to create a future for me and my son– one I could color and shape. When I put literal marks on literal surfaces I couldn’t help but realize that things weren’t just happening to me– I was making things happen. I was painting the way the pelicans fished– repeatedly, passionately, and necessarily. It was very much as though my life depended on the sustenance art provided.

My interest in pelicans eventually turned into an interest in other birds which made good starting points to explore color, texture, and edges. I have since expanded into various other representational subjects and some abstract work. While the different subject paintings tend to look quite different, the inspiration is the same– agency. When I make art I am forging a future. When I look at my paintings in this light, it seems natural that I would often use a lot of thick, heavy paint and a palette knife which allows me to apply it liberally. I want you to see the “marks” I make. They are intentional. I hope they are bold.

In 2015, I started doing live paintings at weddings and events. The irony of becoming a “wedding painter” as the result of a painful divorce is not lost on me, but I love being present for one of the most intimate moments in people’s lives. I try to represent the feeling and spirit of their day on a canvas. Making those types of marks on that type of day seems a physical way of sharing in their joy.
My four and half year old son and I currently live in a sixty-something year old house in downtown Covington where we take lots of walks trying to name the birds we see flying through the oak trees, make amazing breakfasts, and enjoy the life we are actively creating.