By Craig Stocks / Photography by Craig Stocks
Peoria mixed-media artist Rebecca Draland-Doyle remembers exactly when she found art – for good (her first crayons notwithstanding). She was beginning to explore abstract painting techniques in a Richwoods High School art class when Mr. Harris handed her a palette knife. “It was like ‘Yes!’ and that was it – I was home,” she says. Years later she experienced that same feeling once again while taking an open studio class with Pat Brassfield at Illinois Central College.
Rebecca’s family moved to the Peoria area when she was in grade school, so Peoria became her hometown from that point on. After developing a passion for art in high school, she went on to take independent art classes when she could at the Peoria Art Guild and at Bradley University. Although she continued to produce art after that, working and raising a family intervened with the pursuit of creating art full time.
After a variety of jobs that weren’t related to art, Rebecca acquired a position in the Product Information Department for Dick Blick Company. “Working at Blick was a great education,” she said. “It was learning about and working hands-on with a large array of brand-name art materials as well as attending their manufacturer workshops, seminars and trade shows – paints and mediums in particular.”
Rebecca’s work is mostly abstract though some pieces contain recognizable features. She works extensively with a pallet knife to create highly textured paintings with strong shapes and bold colors. “Each piece is an original, and will not be duplicated” she says in her Artist Statement. “I do not typically use one continuous ‘theme,’ or abide by a strict set of painterly rules in my work.”
When she begins a new work she does not always know how it will finish out. Starting with the blank canvas, she many time works “with what comes out of the canvas itself.” She may have an idea of the color palette, but the rest “comes from out ‘there’ – wherever ‘there’ may be”. That’s what makes creating art the real magic. “You’re bringing something out of the void with the artist as the medium and magician.”
Rebecca has worked in a number of studio spaces, but she’s thrilled with her current location. “The move to the Studios on Sheridan has been absolutely wonderful,” she says. And while she’s producing new work, her online gallery pays homage to her inspiration. “The title ‘Brassfield-Harris’ for my gallery page is in honor of two well-liked and influential teachers I had during my most formative years of painting. I truly think artists have more than one “formative” period in their lives – at least mine did.”
You can see Rebecca’s work in person at the Studios on Sheridan at 929 N. Sheridan Road in Peoria and online at www.studiodoyle.com. And, if you’re looking for a great way to spend a Friday evening, check out the CIAO First Friday events at the Studios on Sheridan and other studios in the Peoria area.