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May Featured Artist: Rachel Austin

Portland artist Rachel Austin has been a part of the Click! family since *almost* the very beginning - you've certainly seen her map prints, paintings and notecards and may even remember her last show with us in 2017

Her latest collection gracefully blends her love of ceramics and gardens into modern watercolor silhouettes. The full collection will be installed in our gallery space in early May - just in time for Mother's Day.

Rachel will be doing an in-store painting demo during the next West Seattle Art Walk. Stop in for a chat and a peek at her process from 5-8p on Thursday May 9th.


How would you describe what you make?

For this show I focused on watercolors. The watercolor vessels are inspired by my love of ceramics, simple shapes and creating an abstract landscape within the vessel. I was attempting to do 100 [paintings of] vessels for 2018, but only made it to about 25 and remembered I don’t like those timed challenges. The pieces for the Click! show are my step back into the series after a little break and I’m really happy with them. The botanical watercolors on wood are inspired by gardens and abstract shadows. I love making these as they combine my love of gardens and painting.

What drew you to this medium and style of work?

Laying in the hammock on a summer evening, observing the shadows in the garden. I was inspired to see if I could tap into that peaceful feeling by painting the soft abstract shadows of plants. I usually work in mixed media for my map series, but also have always loved watercolors and I think watercolors are well suited to the feeling I’m trying to portray.


Can you tell us about your favorite piece in the current collection?

The large Ginkgo painting is my favorite. I love the colors and composition. Some pieces surprise me on how they turn out (in a good way) and this is one of those pieces.


If you could collaborate with anyone (living or not), who would it be and why?

Not a specific person, per se, but I love collaborating with kids in art. I feel like my creativity skyrockets when talking with and making art with kids. They are full of magic.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Someone close advised me to stick to the basics. I can get overwhelmed with all the directions you can go in art and life. I still push myself, but this advice of sticking to the basics resonated with me. Focus on what is important in life, work and just paint.


Can you describe your favorite part of the process in your work?

That first moment of laying down watercolor. When I don’t quite know how things are going to turn out or what direction it will go. So exciting. I also enjoy when I don’t really like the piece and I have to figure out a way to fix it - mistakes usually lead to more interesting paintings or help me learn a new process.


When you are in the studio, what are you listening to?

Lots of podcasts and NPR. I like podcasts where I’m learning new things since I work by myself all day and like to keep my mind active. When the news is too heavy I switch to music.


What is your most treasured handmade possession?

Framed artwork by my daughter (now ten) at current and earlier ages and beautiful ceramics given to me by family and friends.

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