"Using Middle America as her muse, Kowch draws the history of a particular place -- invariably rural -- to the surface as it collides with a new reality in layers of metaphor and moodiness. The faces of her women may remind you of characters in a Tim Burton film."
--Steve Parks, Newsday

Saturday, March 12, 2011


72" x 60"
acrylic on canvas

Things are cooking in the studio, hence my lack of posts as of late, and Sojourn is another large-scale, all-consuming work I recently wrapped up. After taking a quick few days to come down from the mega adrenaline high, a new painting is already up on the easel, and others are still thoughts yet to be officially pinned down on paper, all of which I'll be looking forward to sharing with all of you in the coming weeks.

For now, a few of my thoughts behind this one. The concept for it ultimately came about by way of taking the leap to do something with butterflies, a thought I'd faintly entertained in the past, but pushed to the back of my mind because I wasn't quite sure in what way I would initially handle the subject matter. Then one day it completely hit me, the whole image; one of those rare instances that foregoes all the extensive planning and playing via roughs and sketches to get it right. Amazingly, a lot of my ideas have been free-flowing lately, and there's no better feeling than that light bulb going off and getting so excited you're literally scrambling to write it all down. Here, I wanted the structure of an old farmhouse to figure prominently in the scene, a large looming shape where I could indulge my craving to explore the details of all those old farmhouses I so loved discovering on backroad haunts, that are now leveled and no more.

In a way, it's an homage to a past where things were so much purer, simpler. But like butterflies, who are in a constant state of transformation and migration, such is life, where things come and go and it's up to us to choose what's worth keeping and preserving. Butterflies have always served as symbols of hope and beauty throughout the ages, creatures that, despite their delicate fragility, still must brave long and brutal migrations. Even so, their short rests along the way are one of nature's most beautiful and fascinating events to behold. The contrast between them, the women, and the house was something that struck and appealed to me in my mind's eye; almost like a fusion of past, present, and future.

To reflect the depth and complexity of the scene, I also wanted to explore textures more deeply than ever, and when I settled on the outfits, I made sure they carried an airiness that would translate and mesh with the delicacy of the nets and butterflies themselves.

I created the outfits out of several pieces of clothing, combinations of vintage pieces, regular pieces, and curtains [yes, curtains :)]. My models (dear friends) are always amazing to work with, especially in instances like this, where they're pinned up all sorts of ways in these strange get-ups. Makes for lots of laughs and keeps me going while running back and forth manning lights, camera, action, outfits falling apart, etc. It being a large painting, I really wanted to take advantage of the fact that I could get into all the details, and boy did I with this one. It just felt right, and to really experience everything it has to be viewed in real life. I must have re-shot the work a million times to try to capture all the subtleties here, but, a bit of the true colors and details still got lost nonetheless. Hopefully most of you will be able to come see it face-to-face at my show this July! It's hard to believe Spring is already upon us despite the relentless snowfall and cold winds still going strong here in Michigan! :)


Marnie said...

I think this is just beautiful! Many congratulations :)

DANOU pour les intimes said...

Really lovely! ;)

William R. Moore said...

What was your reasons for the white turkey? I see it as a design device that leads the eye from the forward figure to the second figure continuing the circular movement of the composition. Does the turkey have any symbolic or other reason to your concept.

Another fine painting...I enjoy your work.

Andrea Kowch said...

Thanks to all! @William - the turkey was included mainly as a design element, and to further embellish the rural mood.

Dave Chow Illustrations said...

Looking good as always!

Alvin Richard said...

Your paintings go in a direction where no paintings have gone before....truly original Andrea! The attention to detail is such an asset in this type of imagery.

Chelsea Kirchoff said...

This is seriously breath-taking.

Soh-Yeon Lee said...
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Sheila Vaughan said...

Andrea, your description for me almost belies the feelings I get when I look at the painting, which are mainly on the "disturbing" side of the spectrum. The unsettling wind blowing hair and the Hopper like curtain in the "looming" (your word) farmhouse. Plus the fact that the butterflies are all black and to me, in this instance, not such beautiful friendly creatures. I want instinctivey to brush them from the girls' dresses and faces. It's got a real "Hitchcock" feel for me.

Darel said...

A very detailed acrylic paintings and enigmatic! I LIKE IT, BEAUTIFUL ARTWORK! :)