Valerie Willson


Valerie Willson lives on a rural island and is influenced both by an intense immersion in nature and close involvement in the process of people’s lives. Patterns fascinate her—the patterns in growing things and the patterns in our lives, the way humans address similar issues over and over, yet differently each time. Hope and joy fascinate Willson, as they are woven into the continual cycle of living things. It is these concepts that Willson thinks about and attempts to infuse into her abstract paintings as she builds/subtracts layer upon layer and pattern over pattern.

Over the years, Valerie Willson has become increasingly interested in incorporating the techniques of monotype into her paintings. Coming from a background of printmaking (etching and monoprinting), Willson continues to be drawn to the freedom and serendipity of the monotype process, while somehow finding that she wants to extend that process into a more substantial finished object.

Willson begins by gessoeing heavy rag paper on both sides. Then she dries it in blotters, creating a very flat surface, which will take a lot of abuse. Beginning with an underpainting of a fairly brilliant color, she builds textures and colors slowly, using both substrative and additive processes. She applies paint with stencils (lace, Japanese papers, found objects), stamps (hand cut block prints, commercial made patterns), and textures. Paint is applied both with a brush and with rollers. As in monotype, what is revealed in the subtractive process often becomes the most exciting and unique aspect of the piece. The finished work is varnished and framed, or attached to an archivally finished wood panel.

Willson received a B.F.A. from Portland Museum of Art School in Portland, OR, in 1972; and also attended the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC; University of Oregon in Eugene, OR; and Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, OR. In addition to receiving education Willson has imparted quite a bit of art education to others as well, teaching printmaking, monoprinting and drawing at various schools and colleges.

From the early ’70s to the present Willson has had numerous group and solo exhibitions throughout the Pacific Northwest, nationally and internationally. Her works have appeared as illustrations in several publications; her works have won many awards; and appear in various public and private collections, including the Portland Art Museum, Safeco Corporation and Fred Meyer Charitable Trust.


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