If abstract artist and Bend native Valerie Winterholler ever decides to shift career gears, she already has an idea.
“If I could get the job where I make a new color at the paint store, that would be the best job ever,” she said Tuesday at Paul Scott Gallery in downtown Bend, where she’s this month’s featured artist (see “If you go”). “If I could mix paint all day, I would love it.”
Winterholler’s fondness for colors — white, by the way, is her favorite — is what led her away from sculpture, which was her focus while earning her art degree at Southern Oregon University.
“I really like the figure, and abstracts. I like color,” she said. “That’s why I got into painting, (because) I couldn’t do what I wanted with sculpture.”
After graduation from SOU, Winterholler moved to Colorado “and was a ski bum for a few years. Then I ran out of money,” she said, laughing. During her years away, she dabbled in painting, but it was after moving back to Bend about 15 years ago to start a construction company with her husband, Tyler, that she began painting seriously again.
She worked on paper until a few years ago, when she began painting acrylics on panel. After applying a thin layer of clay to the surface, she might apply three to five layers of paint.
The mother of a young daughter, Winterholler tries to paint every day out of her studio above the KPOV radio station in downtown Bend.
“It keeps the gears going,” she said. “When you stall out, you end up going back to the studio and looking at the big blank thing and going, ‘Oh my God.’”
Though the construction business is no more, its influence sometimes inform her work, such as the painting “Treadle and Line,” which is in the show at Paul Scott.
“For a while, about five years ago, I was doing a lot of very geometric or architectural abstractions,” she said. “My husband, with his construction company, would draw out house plans, and I loved the lines and sense of constrained space that can give. It can give you a feeling of structure or not.”
Winterholler does about 20-30 paintings a year, but with her daughter now in first grade, she can see herself putting in more studio time.
“I’m getting into my stride and figuring out how to get everything done and pick her up from school in a timely matter,” Winterholler said.
Whatever her output, her goal with her art will likely remain the same.
“I’m not saying anything (with my art),” she said. “I just want to create a nice restful place for people to sit back and just relax.
“I’m not making a statement to the world,” she added. “There’s enough people doing that.”
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