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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Alexandria Winslow: The Art of Connection

Oct 31, 2023 12:00PM ● By Suzie Agrillo
Art is like music in that we all have to make our own tune. Alexandria Winslow is not a Tucson native, and yet when she moved here in 1982, it was clear to her the dramatic landscape and visual beauty of the desert hit all of the musical high notes she had been longing for as an artist.
Winslow’s art is whimsical, joyful, imaginative and sometimes outside the box. For her, it is all about placement, contrast and composition. She has replaced her early use of earthy colors and become a colorist, using the vibrant color palette of the desert landscape in an original and creative way in her artwork.
A nature lover, she hikes, camps and travels in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, where she is rewarded with an abundance of inspiration for her paintings. Using her trademark style, she paints the landscape and wildlife of the Sonoran Desert to prompt the viewer to think about the conservation of our desert ecosystem.
An Associate Member of Women Artists of the West, Winslow’s work has been chosen for several posters and selected for a permanent collection on the walls of the Eller College of Business. She has also been featured in a number of art festivals and shows.
The central thread of Winslow’s work is to express universal feelings of connection, joy and passion for the world around us in her work. She hopes her art strikes a chord with others. Winslow puts it best when she says, “I’ve had many people say that my work speaks to them, lifts them up, moves them, brings them joy. I hope that my work will be remembered for the light that lives in me that I wanted to share with others—a spark of my soul that spoke to theirs through my art.”

A Conversation with Artist Alexandria Winslow

Where did you grow up? When did you move to Tucson?
I grew up in New Jersey. I lived in several other states before settling in Tucson in 1982.

What do you remember liking about art from an early age?
I loved color, landscape and wildlife and the way other artists interpreted what they chose to paint. I was raised by my grandparents in early childhood and my Nana was an artist, writer and dancer. She saw an artistic spark in me as a toddler and taught me how to express myself in many mediums. She had me oil painting at the age of four.

When did art become a passion in your life?
Because my grandmother had exposed me to all kinds of art and artists at such an early age, it became my passion as far back as I can remember.

What is your background as an artist? Education/self-taught?
I am a combination of both. My grandmother was my first mentor, and I was also experimenting with art on my own. I won my first award at a show when I was 12 for an abstract oil. I also took a few fine art courses in high school and college as well as other workshops and courses over the years. I was so curious about trying many mediums initially.

Why did you choose acrylic painting as a medium for your art?
I chose to work in acrylics about 20 years ago. I was unable to work with oils for health reasons. I love the ability to layer paint very quickly with water-based paint. My style of working lends itself to the quickly drying acrylic paints and vibrant colors it offers. Acrylics are also great for demonstrating, which I still do at Jane Hamilton Fine Art, monthly from October to March each year.

Where do you get your ideas?
I have always looked to God’s creation. Wildlife and landscape are my preferred subjects, although I mostly paint American southwestern landscapes.

How does Arizona inspire you?
Oh, my goodness! Arizona has spectacular scenery and light and just inspires me to paint this incredible landscape again and again. The mix of cultures and vivid colors that show up in purple mountains, glorious sunsets, stark rock and ever-changing skies bid me to paint them.

How do you utilize color in your art?
I use color as therapy for myself. It is not something I was always conscious of but as I have reached my mid-60s, I have gained much insight into what and why I paint the way I do. I love beauty and color in all things. When I am at my easel painting, I go to my happy place as they say. So having said that, I resonate with color visually, emotionally and spiritually. I love the puzzle of figuring out what colors evoke the spirit of the place that I saw and visited.

Why do you think others are drawn to your paintings?
I believe there is a universal appeal to our beautiful surroundings and the “wow” moments of nature and life that we all can relate to, so I paint them. I am joyful when I paint, and I think when people see my work it makes them happy, and they can relate to the scene I have created.

Which artists influenced your style of art?
Initially I was very influenced during my youth by the pop and illustration artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s like Andy Warhol, Heinz Edelmann and Roy Lichtenstein. I was extremely interested in high-definition, illustration and graphic art. Interestingly, I still gravitate to artists today who often started out in illustration careers like Dennis Ziemienski and Billy Schenck. I also love the poster and album cover art of that time period as well, like Phoenix by Grand Funk. I look to the past for inspiration as well in the old masters such as Van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, Michaelangelo, Caravaggio and many more. Love the murals of Diego Rivera.

What is your artistic philosophy?
Visual art is a dance of the mind, heart, soul and body. It is an experience and relationship that must be put to a concrete medium of expression. When I paint a landscape, I have already immersed myself in it, seen it, savored it, enjoyed it, smelled it, walked in it, slept in it and gazed upon it with wonder.

How would you describe yourself in five words?
Expressive, passionate, motivated, sensitive and curious

Where can people buy your art?
I am represented by Jane Hamilton Fine Art in Tucson.

What music do you listen to while you are painting?
I have an eclectic palate when it comes to music. I love jazz, Native flute, instrumental, Christian and gospel, classic rock and big band, to name a few. Lately I have been listening to blues, like Chris Smithers and Nickel Creek, who started out as bluegrass, but now call themselves “Progressive Acoustic”.

Where are you traveling to on your next trip?
I recently was invited to make an art trip to Italy and will be displaying my new work at “From Italy with Love” on November 17, at Jane Hamilton Fine Art. Next up is Israel.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra on creativity?
The quote I resonate with is a little old fashioned: “He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I learned incredibly young that inspiration can come at any time. If your studio or supplies are ready at hand and you have a solid and practiced method of application, you can dive right into your work.

What advice do you have for aspiring amateur artists?
I think as a young woman I thought there would be a magical moment when my art would be recognized and afford me a good living. Now looking back with hindsight, I realized that just putting in the steady one foot in front of the other approach is more realistic. Never give up! Always create your work and always showcase it consistently.
I worked in an amazing art cooperative for eight years, showed in art festivals for five years, joined online art sellers, submitted my work repeatedly to shows and competitions and slowly got acceptance and invitations to show my work. I submitted my work to the Jane Hamilton Fine Art gallery and was accepted in the summer of 2019.

Connect with Alexandria Winslow at [email protected]. Jane Hamilton Fine Art is located at 2880 E Skyline Dr, Ste 180, Tucson (520-529-4886).

Suzie Agrillo is a freelance writer in Tucson and a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings Magazine. She focuses on writing about the arts, inspirational people and the human connection. Connect at [email protected].