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Neosurrealist Artist Wendy Seller Takes Awesome New Turn With Her Work

Updated on March 11, 2011
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Trouble ComingBreakawayWoman with BeadsTransformedTransposedMelancholyWoman in GreenWoman with BabyParadiseBed
Trouble Coming
Trouble Coming
Woman with Beads
Woman with Beads
Woman in Green
Woman in Green
Woman with Baby
Woman with Baby

Awhile back I wrote a Hub about my ten favorite contemporary surrealist artists. These are artists who are inspired by the work that was done by the original surrealists of the 1920’s but who are working in modern times, sometimes using traditional mediums like painting and sometimes using 21st century technology to create their works of art.

One of the artists that I mentioned at that time was Wendy Seller. As I noted at that time, Seller was the first artist whose work was dubbed with the term “neosurrealist”, a term now used to describe a contemporary body of modern surrealist work that is captivating, moving and interesting. As I noted in that original article:

“Her work incorporates a lot of images from nature and brings them together in a magically pretty manner. She, too, is a favorite artist of mine.”

So you can imagine that I was very excited when Seller contacted me to provide me with information about the work that she is currently doing in the art world. Seller is a teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design but she is taking a sabbatical right now to focus entirely and completely on a new body of work that she’s creating. The main difference between this work and her previous work is that she has shifted from just painting to adding in the use of computer technology to enhance her creative work.

Seller says that she still loves painting but that in the past couple of years she has been highly interested in the relationship between her painting work and modern computer software like Adobe Illustrator. A main thing she noticed was that she naturally layers work as a painter and Adobe Illustrator is built in large part on the ability to layer. She wanted to explore and expand upon this.

In her own words:

“When I saw that I could place a scanned image of one of my paintings into Illustrator and dissect it, my approach to purposeful image making expanded. I began dissecting, decomposing, recomposing, analyzing, and manipulating past and current works, and discovered a new way of working that was not only liberating, but pure "play"! Through Adobe Illustrator I viewed my paintings with fresh perspective -- my labor-intensive oils were reinterpreted through hundreds of color-filled ameba-like puzzle pieces. I began combining elements from my paintings with historical references, and manipulated these further. Using a flatbed scanner, possibilities increased as I captured small three-dimensional nature objects from my studio collection and added them to the mix.”

Seller began to explore this in 2009 but didn’t begin to develop finished pieces until 2010. Here are ten works of art that have come about in this new body of work thus far:

1. Trouble Coming

2. Breakaway

3. Woman with Beads

4. Transformed

5. Transposed

6. Melancholy

7. Woman with Baby

8. Woman in Green

9. Paradise

10. Bed

Those ten works of art are listed more or less in order of exploration. Learning more about them provides the viewer with great insight into Seller’s creative process as she tackles this new type of work. The first two works of art were created using elements from her own oil paintings. From there, Seller wanted to take on the challenge of trying out new subject matters. The next three works of art explored the ability to work with figure.

From there Seller moved on to work number 6 – Melancholy. She used several of her oil paintings from the past and combined them with a historical image as well as objects from nature to create a fresh, new, finished piece of work.

Woman with Baby and Woman with Green take things in yet a new direction. In Seller’s own words:

“Recently I have been developing a process that is most exciting and seemingly limitless. The following works began with a digital "study" using multiple references from historical paintings, other visuals in my large picture collection, and textures from nature. Once I reached a certain point in my composition, a printed "proof" was generated, and I could then develop the work further using paint. When I hit a juncture of either being stuck or taking things too far -- which was often the case in my oil paintings -- I rescanned the painted "work-in-process" and continued building on it within the computer, adding or subtracting elements and making changes. This process permits a fluid back and forth between digital manipulation and hands-on painting until the work is finished -- or it departs in a completely different direction as a new piece.”

Although Seller is spending time exploring all of these new things, she hasn’t entirely fled from her roots. She is still highly interested in exploring surrealism with no figures in the images and the last two works of art on the above list are representative of that type of work. Paradise was created last year and Bed is a 2011 work of art.

Seller creates this work in her own contemporary studio, a place that is often called her “greatest work of art”. She made this studio from scratch, taking the six years between 1988 and 1994 to complete this massive work of art. To make this studio she took over the space of an old elementary school and added many different artistic touches to make it a gorgeous space in which she is comfortable to create. She wasn’t the only artist who did this; the elementary school was converted into live/work studios by fourteen artists in total but Seller gained particular attention for how great her personal studio came out. See the before and after pictures at Design Sponge.

It'll be interesting to see what this great artist comes up with next!


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