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Tess Olson gets “Groovy” in the Gallery

Groovy by Tess Olson, winner of Best in Show August 2018

Second time Best in Show winner (first time here), Tess Olson, walks us through her process, returning to her roots, and using shapes and textures to create her abstract piece Groovy

How does Groovy fit the theme of “Value”? How did you define “Value” through this piece?

“I value the process of painting, pushing to an unexpected place, and then slowly making decisions that allow the richness and complexities to show through. Groovy fits this theme because it took a long time to make, and at one point, it was a total mess.”

What inspired Groovy? What does the title refer to?

“In this piece I was more conscious of the underlying shapes being off-center and trying to keep it balanced. I call this one Groovy because it has a definite flow and it feels a little retro to me.”

Is there something you’d like the piece to speak to?

“I hope it expresses the idea of diverse colors, shapes, and textures coexisting in a beautiful way.”

How did you achieve the texture in this piece?

“Part of the process is building up and sanding down.“

Urban, Tess Olson, 2018, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36

Another painting of yours, Urban looks similar to Groovy in the choice of palette… are there any links between the two paintings?

“They are both part of my latest series where the history and evolution of each painting is celebrated and important. As far as the palette, I love grays with a spot of color.”

In 2012, your style was very photorealistic, how did you make the switch and work into abstraction?

“I started as an abstract painter in college, but I went through about a seven year period where I decided to focus on landscape, figure, and still life. I started with plein air painting because it scared me the most, then attended open-life sessions to paint the figure and finished with still life painting in my studio. During that time I attended many workshops and classes and participated in several plein air competitions. It was all great, but now I’m back to my abstract roots, which I love.”     

Smells Like Licorice, from the “Strange Terrain” series, oil on canvas, by Tess Olson. Winner of The Art League Best in Show Award March 2017.

You’ve created collections of your work (“Formations” and “Strange Terrain”), does your more recent work have a collection name?

“Not yet.”

What are you working on now?

“I’m still working on this new series.”

Keep up with Tess’ new series at her website, www.tessolson.com. See Groovy and the rest of our August “Value” Exhibit, juried by Sharon Louden, at The Art League Gallery through September 2.


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