At the Steps
2017 24" x 30"
work in progress image
A painter born and raised in Los Angeles, Denise grew up in a family of visual artists, including her father and grandfather, both cinematographers. Denise learned early on the importance of framing and lighting to set a scene and the power of stringing scenes together to tell a compelling story.
After graduating from California State University, Northridge, Denise worked as an Illustrator, Muralist, and Greeting Card Designer before discovering her métier of painting with acrylics and colored pencil. She is inspired largely by traveling with her family, and currently lives with her husband and son in Los Angeles.
It’s all about Interaction. Communication. Conveying a shared experience with color, light, shadow, and the framing of a scene.
How do we, as people of differing backgrounds, cultures, and histories interact with each other? How do we respond to one another? Where do we fit in? Will we know when we get there? Will we realize, perhaps while in the middle of a crowd, where that will be?
Stories can come from anywhere, and there’s no predicting where they’ll be revealed.
My paintings are illustrations, pictures waiting to be paired with text. Color, movement, body language, movement, the contrast of light and shadow, the encounters, settings, the people that I encounter who are also in the midst of being on their way. What does their body language say about them?
My future as an Illustrator was inevitable. I have been drawing, working with color, since I was three. As a child, one of my favorite school activities was writing a story, then illustrating it. In College, I avoided painting, preferring markers, and then colored pencil. Once I tried painting with Acrylics, I combined them with pencil and started painting seriously.
At first, I painted old signs and storefronts. In 2017, I was experimenting with color and scene framing to convey the energy, comradery, and movement within a crowd at a political protest. Looking at my photo reference, I expected to see a depressed, grey, flat scene. What I found was vibrancy, an excitement that jumped from the photo. These protesters were united, colorful, interacting, and determined to stand together. I realized, in this moment, that the stories of people’s interactions were the stories that I wanted to convey.
I am motivated by a desire to communicate with others, to illustrate stories of the experiences of people, either alone or in groups large or small. In celebration, in protest, in an intimate moment, of being in a common environment. To realize that as different as our lives are, our experiences are the same. I find my inspiration, mostly, by wandering. By being open to what’s going on around me. I go into these situations with no expectations, leaving myself open to anything that catches my eye.
What would I like a viewer of my work to know? That I am here. Experiencing life as we all are, together and alone. We can experience a relationship in a moment. Acknowledgement of and connecting with each other is in our nature.
My art is constantly evolving, as my experience grows. I learn something from every painting that I create. Part Figurative, part Illustration, my paintings emerge from images that I collect during my travels.
Our surrounding, our circumstances color what we see, feel, and experience.