Portfolio | Women in Art

Meet 10 women who paint everything from landscapes to still lifes

This story was featured in the October 2019 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2019 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

LISA GLEIM

Lisa Gleim, Loft Cat, pastel, 20 x 24.

Lisa Gleim, Loft Cat, pastel, 20 x 24.

What inspires you to paint? I love painting the effects of light. It’s fascinating to watch the colors and shades radically change in a landscape.
How would you describe your style? I consider myself a pastelist more than anything else. If I had to pick a style, I would say that I am a representational colorist.
How did you first get interested in art? I was always told that I was drawing before I could write my name. My first award was for a drawing I did when I was 5; my mother entered it into a state fair art show.
Where did you study art? I graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and studied at length with artists including Burton Silverman and Peggy Baumgartner.
What is your creative process like? I am always taking photos of things that inspire me, so I have thousands of reference photos to work from. I tend to stick with one subject, like landscapes or wildlife, for several paintings. Working on several pieces at the same time helps me keep the paintings fresh and not overworked.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? Receiving the Gold Medal of Honor in Pastel at the Audubon Artists exhibitions in 2012 and 2016 and the Art Spirit Foundation’s Gold Medal Award for Pastel in 2013. And I am particularly proud of having a small portrait of my daughter be part of the American Women Artists’ show at the Haggin Museum.
What galleries represent your work? Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC; Creighton Block Gallery, Big Sky, MT; Lovetts Gallery, Tulsa, OK; Atlanta Artist Collective, Atlanta, GA; and www.lisagleimfineart.com.

DESTINY BOWMAN

Destiny Bowman, Making Potions, oil, 36 x 36.

Destiny Bowman, Making Potions, oil, 36 x 36.

What inspires you to paint? Life in general is my inspiration. I use painting as a kind of therapy. At first it was just the act of painting that was therapy; now the subject matter is becoming more meaningful.
How would you describe your style? My work is traditional in technique, but I merge it with a contemporary feel. And it is a bit moody with its use of a strong light source.
How did you first get interested in art? I remember being hooked after doing a pencil drawing of a Victorian woman in middle school. In high school I had a lovely art teacher who was a huge encouragement.
Where did you study art? I studied at College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI, for two years. Then, about five years ago, I met Daniel Sprick and painted with him in his studio for about eight months.
What is your creative process like? Sometimes I already have an image or composition in my head, and I work that idea into a painting. Other times I use my young niece as a muse, and that starts with me taking candid shots of her playing.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? I’ve had paintings accepted in both the Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition and the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society national show.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? The time that isn’t spent painting is spent with my husband and our pup, Vivy.
What galleries represent your work? www.destinybowmanfineart.com.

KAREN HENNECK

Karen Henneck, Shadows in the Woods, pastel, 24 x 36.

Karen Henneck, Shadows in the Woods, pastel, 24 x 36.

What inspires you to paint? Nature’s perpetually changing palette, from season to season and day to day. The sparkle of pastels also inspires me.
How would you describe your style? Impressionistic and painterly.
How did you first get interested in art? I always loved creating but chose to become a floral designer. At 46, I decided it was time to allow my dream of becoming an artist to come true.
Where did you study art? I found a wonderful world opening up for me at a two-year college in my town, where I finally learned the basics of art and design.
What is your creative process like? I quickly draw the scene using hard pastels in the complementary hues of the colors I see. When finishing the painting, I use soft pastels in light, quick strokes, leaving the complements to peek through for vibrancy.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? One of my paintings was selected to hang permanently in the Wyoming State Capitol. I am a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America and was a Top 200 finalist in the Arts for the Parks competition. And I was one of 25 artists chosen to paint a life-size fiberglass buffalo for Custer, SD, and the Chief of Indian Nations came to dance and pray over it.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? I love writing and illustrating children’s books.
What galleries represent your work? Laura M Gallery, Saratoga, WY; Deselms Fine Art, Cheyenne, WY; and www.karenhenneck.com.

MELANIE O’KEEFE

Melanie O'Keefe, Blue, oil, 48 x 48.

Melanie O’Keefe, Blue, oil, 48 x 48.

What inspires you to paint? I think there is nothing more beautiful than nature.
How would you describe your style? I’ve always preferred realism with clean edges. My mind sees in detail, so that is how I paint.
How did you first get interested in art? I was born an artist. I was also a ballet dancer, an interior designer, and a gourmet cook. I painted some murals for a church that turned out really well, so I thought I would try painting on canvas. That was six years ago, and I’m very grateful for the doors that have opened for me. But believe me, I work hard—art is my life, and I paint every day of the week, anywhere from six to 15 hours a day.
What is your creative process like? When I was in design school, we didn’t have computers, so we drafted. I think that is the one thing that has helped me the most. It helped me see perspective and distance.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? The most exciting thing was when I sold my first painting. There is no bigger rush than when someone connects to your art. After that was being accepted into the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society’s Best of America Exhibit. I have been accepted this year, and I am so honored.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? If I take time away from painting, I spend it with family and friends.
What galleries represent your work? Canary Gallery, Birmingham, AL; Lazenby’s Genesis Gallery, Birmingham, AL; and www.mokeefeart.com.

SUZIE SEEREY-LESTER

Suzie Seerey-Lester, Morning Departure, acrylic, 18 x 36.

Suzie Seerey-Lester, Morning Departure, acrylic, 18 x 36.

What inspires you to paint? My husband and I are lucky to travel all over the world seeing animals in their natural habitats.
How would you describe your style? My style is tight and realistic. I love all the detail I can paint into straw, wood, barns, and feathers.
How did you first get interested in art? I sketched and drew all my life. At 16 I was the first woman scuba diving instructor in the country, and I was interested in painting the sea life that I saw firsthand.
Where did you study art? I took my first art class in San Diego from Lela Hardy, a local art teacher. I then started taking wildlife-painting workshops. That’s how I met my husband, painter John Seerey-Lester, 200 feet up a tree at 4 a.m. in Guatemala!
What have been some of the highlights of your career? The first time I was selected for the Birds in Art show was overwhelming! Later the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, which hosts the show, purchased a painting for its permanent collection. One of my paintings was also featured on the cover of International Artist magazine. But the best part was meeting my husband.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? For the past 18 years I have been a volunteer with the Moat Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. I am licensed by the state of Florida to monitor and rescue the endangered and threatened sea turtles on our beaches.
What galleries represent your work? Trailside Galleries, Jackson, WY; Hueys Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM; Native Visions Gallery, Naples, FL, and Jupiter, FL; The Plainsmen Gallery, Dunedin, FL; Germanton Gallery, Germanton, NC.

SUSAN MATTESON

Susan Matteson, Evening Shadows, oil, 20 x 24.

Susan Matteson, Evening Shadows, oil, 20 x 24.

What inspires you to paint? Light, shadow, color, and close values like you see in moonlight and snow scenes. I used to ride my horse in snowstorms and moonlight, and it still inspires me today.
How would you describe your style? Representational.
How did you first get interested in art? In sixth grade a teacher showed me how to create highlights on my charcoal drawing. I was totally hooked after that.
Where did you study art? I have a bachelor’s degree in fine art and an associate degree in graphic design, both from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
What is your creative process like? I may review my photos or go out plein-air painting. I have lots of ideas, so I try to distill and refine them on paper or in smaller paintings.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? Getting into Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual; designing trout and salmon stamps for the state of Illinois; winning an Award of Excellence for my painting SNOWY EVE 2 in Oil Painters of America’s Western Regional Show in 2018; and being juried into the California Art Club’s Gold Medal Show.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? Playing the piano and trying the violin. I also like to fish, canoe, ride a horse, and socialize when I get a chance.
What galleries represent your work? Kilgore American Indian Art, Mancos, CO; Mary Williams Fine Arts, Boulder, CO; and www.susanmatteson.com.

NANCY TANKERSLEY

Nancy Tankersley, Lobster Shack Morning, oil, 30 x 30, private collection.

Nancy Tankersley, Lobster Shack Morning, oil, 30 x 30, private collection.

What inspires you to paint? People have inspired me from my earliest beginnings as an artist. I’m interested in the gestural movement of people as they work, play, and interact. I have also been inspired by the landscape, and now many of my landscape paintings involve figures or structures.
How would you describe your style? My style is impressionistic. I prefer a painting that is a quick glimpse of a moment rather than a studied interpretation of all that is in the scene.
How did you first get interested in art? My brother had a Jon Gnagy learn-to-draw kit, and I borrowed it. I received positive feedback from my extended family, especially when I drew their portraits.
Where did you study art? I majored in fine art at Miami University in Ohio and then finished college later at the University of California in Santa Cruz. After that I studied with Cleve Miller, Danni Dawson, Daniel Greene, Ken Auster, Quang Ho, and Carolyn Anderson, among others.
What is your creative process like? My process includes a lot of construction and deconstruction to get to just the right balance between sharp focus and abstract shapes.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? The most recent highlight was being selected as the featured artist for the 49th annual Waterfowl Festival in Easton, MD, in November. In 2017 and 2018 I was invited to the American Masters show at the Salmagundi Club in New York.
What galleries represent your work? Chasen Galleries, Richmond, VA, and Sarasota, FL; Gildea Gallery, Key West, FL; LePrince Fine Art, Charleston, SC; and www.nancytankersley.com.

PATTI ROBBINS

Patti Robbins, Fruit, Flowers & Watering Cans, oil, 30 x 40.

Patti Robbins, Fruit, Flowers & Watering Cans, oil, 30 x 40.

What inspires you to paint? My still-life paintings begin with a treasure hunt through my suitcases filled with fabrics and vessels. I’m influenced by color and pattern, and the process of orchestrating these elements into bold compositions ignites the creative process.
How would you describe your style? Contemporary realism.
How did you first get interested in art? As a child I always loved to color and draw. Growing up in New York City, I was exposed to many great museums.
Where did you study art? My undergraduate and graduate degrees were not in the fine arts, but I always took studio classes as electives. I continued to study at the Atlanta College of Art and the Art Students League of New York and attended many workshops over the years.
What is your creative process like? I spend a lot of time arranging and rearranging items. I study the shadows that come through my studio windows. Then I make a quick sketch and start painting.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? My first solo exhibit at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art last year; I prepared for almost two years in advance. I am a juried member of the National Association of Women Artists and Women Painters West. The greatest honor is having my paintings living with appreciative collectors.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? Knitting, cooking, dancing as exercise, and being with my husband, our adult children, and our four donkeys, chickens, dogs, and parrot.
What galleries represent your work? Gallery Los Olivos, Los Olivos, CA, and www.pattirobbinsartist.com.

JAN Y. MILLER

Jan Y. Miller, Uncharted, pastel, 19 x 25.

Jan Y. Miller, Uncharted, pastel, 19 x 25.

What inspires you to paint? I use my art to show my views and visual perspectives of the world. I work in dry pastels, focusing on the beauty that is around us. I hope to share with viewers the world of pastel painting.
How would you describe your style? I have stayed true to representational art, but I have learned that there are abstractions within representational paintings. One aspect that you will consistently find in my paintings is color.
How did you first get interested in art? When asked, “What would you like to do for your 13th birthday?” my answer was, “Visit the Art Institute of Chicago.” Ever since then, understanding the language of painting has been a focal point of my life.
Where did you study art? I studied at Western Illinois University and received a bachelor’s degree in fine art from California State University, Sacramento. I have also had some wonderful mentors.
What is your creative process like? I usually look for a concept to portray and then a mood for the painting.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? Achieving Signature status with the Pastel Society of the West Coast and the Sierra Pastel Society and Master Painter status with Northern California Arts. Also, having my paintings selected for awards by distinguished judges, including the curators of the Crocker Art Museum, Oakland Museum of California, and Haggin Museum.
When you’re not creating art, what else do you enjoy doing? I enjoy being outdoors gardening, camping, and hiking. I especially enjoy spending time with my grandson, Winston.
What galleries represent your work? Newcastle Packing Shed Studio & Gallery, Newcastle, CA; Sacramento Fine Arts Center, Sacramento, CA; and www.jymillerfineart.com.

AMY EVANS

Amy Evans, A Change in the Air, oil, 12 x 16.

Amy Evans, A Change in the Air, oil, 12 x 16.

What inspires you to paint? I am inspired by light as it falls on a subject. I find that I am most connected to the light as it plays in nature.
How would you describe your style? I want to capture the spirit of the subject in paint. My style is often dictated by what stirs my soul. Sometimes it is tonal; sometimes it is more impressionistic.
How did you first get interested in art? I drew and painted as a child and was encouraged by my grandmother, who was always doing something creative.
Where did you study art? I received my bachelor’s degree in art at Southwestern At Memphis University, now Rhodes College. I also studied at the Memphis Academy of Art. I was a fiber artist for many years, but one day I began painting with dyes on my loom. That made me realize how much I missed painting. I then took a painting course at the Art Students League of Denver. I have studied with Albert Handell, Kevin Macpherson, and Frank LaLumia.
What have been some of the highlights of your career? Attaining Master Signature Emeritus status with Women Artists of the West and Signature Membership status with Plein Air Artists Colorado; painting sessions with Scott Burdick and Sue Lyon; the friendships I have made through painting; and a painting trip in France with other women artist friends. But the best part of my art career has always been the honor of someone wanting to own one of my paintings.
What galleries represent your work? Breckenridge Gallery, Breckenridge, CO; Two Old Crows Gallery, Pagosa Springs, CO; and www.amyevansart.com.

This story was featured in the October 2019 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2019 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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