Artist Spotlight: Naomi Schlinke

Cliff Dweller,  12" x 24", Ink on Claybord, 2008
Naomi Schlinke shares sage advice for purchasing brushes, "Simply, choose the right tool for your intention."  

As in her advice, Naomi's life also follows the principle of choosing the best tools for one's intention.  Naomi Schlinke, now an Austin, TX artist, lived and worked as a dancer in San Francisco for many years before moving her career to visual art.  She savored her free time as a visual artist, being drawn to the concept that the art remains a tangible piece once it is created.  Her art reflects great, bold, movement -- almost as though the ink dances on the panel.  A life-long artist in one form or another, Naomi has always found a creative outlet, and the best tool, for getting her intentions out there. 

An interview with Naomi below captures her views on using the right materials.

When did you first call yourself an artist?
"As a six year old I felt transported by my attempts to dance and to embody the classical recordings that my parents played. As I grew older I tried to stay connected to that feeling of being transported. For example, around age ten, I recall blindfolding myself and lying on the floor in front of the stereo with music playing in order to subject myself to just this kind of experience. And even as I loved going to the pool in the summer, it was not to swim or play, but to take in the naturally occurring magic of the experience, the wonderful disorientation of being under water, the way the light bounced, and the tingly puffy feel of my whole body afterwards.

Side by Side, 40" x 60", Ink on Claybord, 2011
I wanted to stay connected to that feeling of being transported by putting it into something artistic. The practice of art had always seemed like the most reliable path to that kind of experience. The things that were created seemed to have special powers. I had a sense that art was not of the practical world, that it didn’t follow from the things that most people wanted or needed to do, like cooking, mowing the lawn, earning a living or having children. Artists seemed to do special things with their awareness, much as I had done as a child.Yet with all that I didn’t think to myself, “I am an artist.” I just thought I was being me. Among adults there is some social tension about who is “really” an artist. I think you are an artist if that is what you are doing with your life."
Corridor, 30"x 30", Ink on Claybord, 2010

What importance do your materials (good or bad) have in your work?
"What interests me most is finding the shortest distance between the nature of the materials and the image produced. Working with brushes as well as pouring, rolling, compressing, sanding, washing, and other events, I look for an image that appears to be occurring naturally like rain or snow, something that is perpetually in transition. I make use of the uncanny resemblances that occur, allowing them to resonate, suggesting a narrative dimension."

What types of brushes do you use in your work?  Size and shape?  
"I love brushes, the magic wands of painting. Sometimes I buy a brush like you would buy a new pair of shoes, just because it’s irresistible. I have always been drawn to filberts because they are great “gliders” and leave interesting end traces. But for a number of years I have also been using very wide wash brushes -- up to ten inches wide."

Do you have any special brush techniques?
"I think most of my brush techniques come from paying attention to a few questions relevant to the work at hand. How wet or dry are the brush and surface relative to each other? How fast is the stroke? Is there acceleration and deceleration? How much pressure? Is it steady or fluctuating? My choices are based on kinesthetic as well as visual feedback."

Do you have any advice on choosing brushes? 
"Simply, choose the right tool for your intention. To do that you need to be familiar with the properties of different types of brushes -- how firm/soft or springy/droopy is it? How much fluid does it hold? What kind of mark is it capable of? How long is the handle? And especially, how do your chosen medium and surface interact with that kind of brush? The golden rule I’ve always heard is, use the biggest brush possible for the job."

If you're interested in following Naomi's shows and artwork, check out her website:

Keep Painting, 

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.