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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Lenora Hill

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One person’s craziness is another person’s reality

By Derrick White

“I follow so many amazing artists on Instagram, and I know some equally amazing artists in Tyler. For a while I was convinced there wasn’t room for any other artists, but what I didn’t realize at the time was the world always needs more art. Even if the people don’t want it, we should give it to them anyway, just in case they don’t realize they want it,” states local, Tyler artist Lenora Hill.

I concur. You should make art, share art. Everyone should embrace the creative outlet of their unique human existence. Sell work you’ve made, don’t make work to sell. Take the craziness of your life and experiences and channel it into your personal, creative expression. “One person’s craziness is another person’s reality,” is a quote from visionary artist and film director Tim Burton.

Photo by Wesley Jones

When one experiences Lenora Hill’s artwork, the Tim Burton influence is apparent. However, Lenora is her own artist. She has dedicatedly committed to her own style, and she has created her own characters’ narratives with their own realities. Lenora’s work is dark, humorously twisted, and engagingly intriguing, and she is deeply devoted to her craft.

Lenora started studying art at Kilgore College and then transferred to Tyler Junior College, graduating in December of 2016. She has exhibited in numerous student exhibitions and has been instrumental in promoting the East Texas art scene.

“During my first semester at TJC, I displayed work at my first art show at a venue called the Mango Chateau, along with local artist Paris Martin and multiple local bands. In February of 2017, I worked with Douglas Jay Boyd to put on a show at the former Jul’s restaurant called the Lemonade Collection showcasing eight artists of varying media and a number of local and out of town bands. Afterwards, I was contacted by Daniel Westmoreland at the Athens Brewery about putting on a live painting and music event. We named the event 2nd Story Arts, and it took place in March and included around six or seven musical acts and four artists. On the eighth of July, we had our second 2nd Story Arts exhibition and event, hosting nine artists,” Lenora affirms. Also in Athens, Lenora took part in a mural painting at the Trace Bar with local Tyler artists Alison Matlock and Sean Smith. The next Athens Brewery Company 2nd Story Arts show is scheduled to be on September 9th.

Lenora keeps herself busy creating and getting her work in front of audiences. Lenora has participated in the Downtown Tyler Wine Swirl art event, and she has had work published in Tyler’s Noise City Zine and the annual TJC Bell Tower Arts Journal. She was commissioned to draw the sheet music cover art for the production of ‘Troubadour’ in Atlanta, Georgia. Later this year, on October 21st, Lenora will be in Deep Ellum in Dallas, TX displaying and selling artwork for the annual pancakes and booze arts festival. You may have seen her work locally at El Guapo Records, the former What About Kabob, and currently at the Strada Caffé near Downtown.

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Lenora mainly works with either acrylic paint or ink. “When I am working with ink, I have a Kuretake no. 50 ink brush pen I use on watercolor paper, or I’ll use a variety of Micron brand pens. On a rarer occasion, I might use watercolor paints or sculpt with clay. I paint mainly on canvas and wood,” states the artist.

When asked about her early inspirations Lenora replies, “I’ve always liked to draw, but even up until high school all I had ever really created were quickly sketched ideas I would hang on the walls of my bedroom. I guess collectively they made a cool collage, but I still didn’t seriously start making art until my second year of college. I knew the style I wanted to draw in, I just had to put in the practice to get there. I was pretty impressed with surrealism throughout my life, so I believe it had an effect on my style. Tim Burton movies like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Coraline” introduced me to alternate worlds of strange characters and scenery and inspired me to create my own. I see all of my paintings and drawings as a culmination of characters from the same weird universe.”

Lenora continues, “The most important thing art has brought to my life is the understanding I will never be as good as I can be. I can never draw for so long, or paint for so long, I can’t improve any further. There is always a goal, and I’ll never get to a point where there’s nothing left to learn. Being an artist is like reading a really good book series, but instead of getting to the end and not having anything left but weird dissatisfaction the world you were just invested in is through existing, you can keep reading forever. So in a simpler sense, I always have something to do, and I like doing it. Aside from that, it’s introduced me to some of the most incredible people throughout the years, and I’ve learned something from all of them.”

Lenora gains inspiration from artists like Jean-Honore Fragonard (French Rococo painter distinguished by exuberance and hedonism). “He incorporated some pretty inappropriate themes for the time, which take a second to catch because the way they are painted is just so beautiful and distracting, but it’s like each painting has its own secrets, and if you don’t stop and admire it for long enough, you can totally miss out on what he was trying to show. It makes one wonder how many messages or signals are missed in other artwork, or even other aspects of life, because you didn’t stop for long enough to soak in the details. Over all, I can only hope to achieve such a graceful, playful style,” pines the artist.

“It’s hard to find logic in things sometimes. That’s why I can’t analyze things too much, because it often doesn’t make much sense.” – Tim Burton.

Find more info about Lenora Hill’s art through Facebook and an Instagram at OddsArt.

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Art

“David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on Exhibit

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This Month at Tyler Museum of Art:

The Tyler Museum of Art (TMA) is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Regular TMA hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5pm Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays. The Museum is supported by its members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler. For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001, tylermuseum.org, or email info@tylermuseum.org.

David Bates, one of the most acclaimed artists in Dallas, is the focus of Tyler Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, “David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on view through September 9th.

Curated by the museum’s Caleb Bell, the exhibition features close to 30 works surveying the prolific career of Bates, one of the most versatile and widely collected contemporary Texas artists. Spanning art from 1982 to 2016, works in the show highlight several of Bates’ most celebrated series and include a wide array of media: oil painting, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and bronze sculpture. The show was assembled from art in public and private collections throughout the state, including the museum’s own permanent collection. Bates’ work is widely exhibited and included in several museum and corporate art collections.

Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Museum members, students, TJC faculty/staff and city of Tyler employees are admitted free. Support for exhibit is provided by The Byars Foundation.

Creativity Camps

Through August, close to 70 kids ages 7-13 and older dive into hands-on art experiences in a series of half-day and full-day camps. Each session is supervised by degreed artists and educators, and culminates with a small exhibition of campers’ work and a community reception.

Camps are held Monday-Friday (9am-4pm) for ages 6-12. Cost is $40 per day or $175 per week. To register online, fill out a form available at tylermuseum.org/creativity-camps-2018.

  • July 9th-13th: Upside-down and Backward – Everything looks different from a fresh perspective. Drawing underwater, painting with spaghetti, there’s no telling what will happen when you change the way you make art. This camp is all about real creativity, and young artists will help brainstorm up new, exciting projects all week long.

  • July 16th-20th: Beachcombers’ Paradise – Love the seashore but hate sunburns and foot-scorching sand? Come explore marine environments through art. Biology, art, and fun merge into one great experience as you learn about the weird, wonderful world of sea life and environments, and express new knowledge through art.

  • July 23rd-27th: 5 Days Away from Rose City – Some of the country’s greatest artists call the Lone Star State home. At this camp, you will explore the geographical regions of Texas and the artists who gain inspiration in them, ending up right here in East Texas.

Family Days

Free admission, interactive art projects, light snacks and a festive atmosphere for all ages are on the menu from 2-4pm the second Saturday of each month with the Tyler Museum of Art’s Family Day. This popular program focuses on fostering a deeper understanding of the Museum’s spotlight exhibitions – and, above all, having fun! To RSVP for groups of 10 or more, please call (903)595-1001 or e-mail info@tylermuseum.org.

First Friday

The first Friday of each month, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions at 11am. From contemporary Texas art to Hudson River School to Andy Warhol, each tour is unique.

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Art

Art Events Warming Up For Summer

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Events & Classes

Every Wednesday (6-8pm) and Sunday (1-3pm) – Acrylic Painting Classes will be held at Michael’s, 5839 S. Broadway, Tyler. Cost is $15. Topics include landscapes, life, and floral. To RSVP go to michaels.com and select the Tyler location. This class features master classic painting techniques while completing an image selected by the Instructor. Supplies are not included.

First Saturday of every Month (10am-2pm) – Eastside Fiber ARTist Meeting – The monthly meeting will be held at the Tyler Public Library, 301 S. College Ave, Downtown Tyler on July 7th. Please join the monthly meetings and participate in a variety of fiber arts from quilting, weaving, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, jewelry making, and mixed media and tons more. Guests and visitors are always welcomed. For more info go to facebook.com/Eastside.Fiber.ARTists. It is free to attend.

July 10th and 24th (both days 3-5pm and 6-8pm) – Painting on the Patio at Rotolo’s – Lauren O Neill has created a one of a kind painting and is hosting a painting session at Rotolo’s! Invite your friends, sip your favorite beverage, and enjoy step-by-step instruction with Lauren an experienced and enthusiastic local artist. You’ll leave with a one-of-a-kind creation and a new found talent you’ll want to explore. All painting supplies are included. Tickets are $35. Rotolo’s is located at 8970 S. Broadway, Tyler. For more info go to eventbrite.com.

July 12th (10am-1pm) – John Randall York Watercolor Workshop – Come out for this fun workshop! Bring your paper, brushes, paint and ambition to capture some downtown, iconic scenes in watercolor. To register, email Arojas@tylertexas.com or call (903)593-6905.

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Art

Inside the Artist’s Studio: I Think I’m Goin’ to Katmandu

The Therapeutic Creations of Stephanie Smith

By Derrick White

“Art as therapy demonstrates the profound healing potential of using the creative process. Art as therapy appears to be as old and continuous as human culture with decorated artifacts existing from prehistoric civilizations to now. It manifests in active form through the artist’s opportunity for self-expression and in receptive form through the response of the viewing audience. The artist’s experience of creating a meaningful work of art and the audience’s capacity for recognizing its meaning can lead to a multitude of healing responses including increased positive influence, relaxation, catharsis, social cohesion, and strengthened spirituality. The creative process can also act as an analgesic for artists who experience a lessening of physical pain while making art. Creating art can be a largely unconscious process providing a window into the mind of the creator. Through an analysis of visual elements such as the placement of an image on the page, the colors, type of lines created, the use of space, the number and integration of drawn items, and the apparent movement of the image, a psychologist, art therapist, or other trained professional can assess the emotional state of a person, provide counseling, and monitor the progress of the person through analyses of subsequent works produced.” – from an article by Tobi Zausner, PhD, on a web site dedicated to the Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

When I experience the artwork of local artist Stephanie Smith (aka Steph Renea), I physically feel a release of tension, and I am metaphysically transported into her rich and subtle, seemingly simplistic, yet intricately complex, abstract compositions of color, shape, and line with their geometric elements. They are powerful and understated. It is a mental remedy for the chaos of the world. I would encourage you to experience this sensation as well. You can find Stephanie and her art popping up here and there around town at different art and Downtown Tyler community events from True Vine Brewing Company, 903 Handmade, and The Foundry Coffee House.

Stephanie graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Art Studies. “I took a wide range of studio classes such as fibers, screen printing, watercolor, figure drawing, and sculpture. I learned a lot of skills in those studio classes I still use today,” states the artist. Smith works with a variety of different materials from acrylic paints, pens, pencils, watercolors, and occasionally embroidery thread. Most pieces are on watercolor or mixed media paper but the artist enjoys painting on canvas as well. Stephanie says, “The media I use is not always the same for each piece. I typically start with the material I feel will best represent the idea I have in my mind and then I add to the piece from there.”

Some of Stephanie’s artistic inspirations include: Heather Day (California-based artist making abstract interpretations between what is known and how it is felt. This artist seems to have the strongest direct influence on Smith’s own work), Chuck Close (painter, famed as a photorealist through his massive-scale portraits), Ron Mueck (amazing, hyper-realistic, super detailed sculptor), Georgia O’Keeffe (painter of enlarged flowers, skyscrapers, and Southwest landscapes, recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”), and Ben Sasso (hip, photographer and educator who lives with his lady in a van down by the river).

“I have always enjoyed the arts. I grew up dancing and was always interested in photography. I would draw and paint occasionally as well. It was after spending time in Nepal I discovered my love for teaching. So I decided to combine these two loves, art and teaching. After starting at the University of North Texas I learned I really loved exploring in my studio classes and staying late into the night painting or screen printing. After college I took a short break from creating physical pieces and started work as a wedding photographer and started a family. I still painted whenever possible and was asked for a commissioned piece for an album my church was putting out. I had a small art show at a friend’s house. But still at this point, I never really considered myself an artist. I just really enjoyed making art and hoped people liked it. In 2016, my life changed drastically and I moved back to Tyler. It was then I rediscovered my love for making art and really pursued being a full time artist. Since then, I have been in art shows, and artist markets (or pop ups), and I have started selling my work on a professional level,” enlightens Smith.

She continues, “Art has been my therapy. It has easily been the best way for me to decompress and really process my emotions. Since most of my work is repetitive shapes and loose brush strokes it is easy for me to find a rhythm. It is in this rhythm I am able to find clarity and peace of mind. Many times I have broken down crying as I recall certain events in my life during this process. It is in these moments I find myself releasing the pain and replacing it with joy and healing. I am so thankful for art and how it has played a large role in my healing.”

Stephanie has some advice for those daunted by the impulse to pursue a creative, artistic life. “The most frustrating thing about being an artist I think would be with me. I have been working on moving past my own insecurities and doubts when it comes to my art. Working through those things is not always easy but most times it leads to my best work. So although it is frustrating at times it is well worth it,” avows Stephanie. I could not agree more. Find yourself a creative outlet. Use art as therapy and a remedy for all life throws at you. Let your imagination and creative processes allow you to overcome your own insecurities and self-doubt. Enjoy the ride and have some fun or just go spend a little time in Nepal and report back.

To find some original art work, art prints and cards, check out the following:

Stephanie will also take custom orders so if you see something you like and want to personalize it, shoot her a message and collaborate.

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