©2019 by Angel Strehlen. Proudly created with Wix.com


fine art

Artist Statement

The best thing gained from my "less than perfect" childhood was the ability to dream. Early on, as soon as I could hold a crayon, I knew that my dreams could only be realized if I made them tangible, so I began to draw. I began by searching through images of the "perfect life" from catalogues and magazines, and later copying the beautiful lines of artists like Arthur Rackham, Aubrey Beardsley and Erte. In school, I would practice my handwriting instead of listening to the teacher, inventing letters and numerals, eventually turning to calligraphy, and studying at the work of Marie Angel and the Queen's scribe, Donald Jackson. I drew my visions and ideals from photos of glorious landscapes, beautiful women dressed in wonderful fabrics, and the strangeness of the natural world. A juxtapose between human and wilderness, strong and weak, colour and black or white, attractive and repulsive, comfort and distress, good and evil.

To reconcile these contradictions, I became the creator and master of my reality, setting beauty and vulnerability against ugly danger; elaborating on pattern, colour, texture, light and mood; sometimes with obsession, other times with whimsy, but always romantic, attempting to find a balance between the "what is" with the "what if". Fantasy and surrealism cushion the hardness of reality, catching the moment between a rock and a soft place. Science tempering the flame of passion, dropping like gravity.

Stubbornly clinging to my vision, I resisted external influences, preferring to focus on traditional painting techniques. In other words, I was self taught, or as I would rather say, self directed. I looked at masters like Frida Kahlo, Van Eyck, Dorothea Tanning, Dali, Emily Carr, Leonardo, Francis Bacon and so many more. I tried every recipe in Ralph Meyers' books: oil glazing, gilding, slaking plaster, cooking gesso and so much to learn about pigments! Printmaking, stamping, frottage, collage and montage all factor into the sum of the image.

The attempt to recreate light and the appearance of reality from pigment is one challenge. Translating the adventures I've experienced and information I've processed into a visual language is quite another. My family and other people, books, movies, music and the environment are all fodder for my creativity. I read and look and absorb in an effort to soak up as much visual information as possible.

 I inherited my grandmother's photos, some as old as 100 years and was inspired to create a visual diary of my family history and genetics. I recreate these photos with paint and overlay pattern in an attempt to bridge the unpredictability of nature with a sense of humanity. It is the human condition to impose order and meaning to the chaos of life and nature. Pattern and repetition calm the mind and create a sense that everything is alright in the world. At the same time, danger seems to lurk in the shadows. Repulsive creatures; snakes, spiders and insects creep unseen and unexpected. Natural yet otherworldly, they threaten our sense of safety, instilling doubt and dread, but like our own beastly nature, we can never be rid of them. A dangerous beauty arises and the uncertainty of reality is realized.

In 2013, I took a hiatus from making art. I began to meditate to discover my inner vision. After several years of exploration, I burst forth with a new fount of creativity. My view of the world had changed, and I embraced the non conceptual nature of reality.

My new works reflect the beauty of texture, color, light and spontaneity of the painting process. Each piece emits a different energy.  



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