Happiness is a journey, not a destination... (Souza) Please enjoy my Journey. Rhonda Polen Wernick was born to Arlene and Leo Polen in Chicago, Illinois. Her father Leo, a Holocaust survivor, instilled in her compassion and a love of life that projects in her artwork. Rhonda was in art classes before kindergarten and won her first award for a painting during one of those classes. Piano started at 6 as did dance. After years of piano, art and dance lessons, she decided on a degree in Commercial Art from Central State University, in Edmond, Oklahoma, now known as The University of Central Oklahoma.
Rhonda worked in Oklahoma as a freelance artist, illustrator and art director before having 2 children. After that teaching private art classes kept her busy as well as publishing 2 books on painting technique; Sophisticated Touch and Contours. The publications of those books led to demonstrating for fine art paint and brush companies at trade shows.
Growing up, Rhonda had always loved dancing with her father at social and family gatherings. That love eventually drew her to a ballroom dance studio in Oklahoma City. They taught her steps, and in turn found in her an artist to paint their t-shirts, studio and sets. Rhonda discovered she was born to dance as well as to paint and first competed in ballroom dance in 1990. The two were a perfect match and led her to paint and illustrate ballroom dancing until 2007.
A job opportunity for her husband moved their family to Nashville in 1994, and together they started DancingArt®. For 13 years, Rhonda traveled the US displaying her artwork and novelty items. Her work has appeared in numerous dance publications, on book covers and CD covers, and in a set design for the MGM movie "A Guy Thing". She is nationally recognized as the premier dance illustrator in the industry. Studios and events around the world display her work as logos and awards. "DancingArt®" has sold pieces worldwide and now provides originals, prints, note cards, and stationery.
2007 brought to Rhonda a desire to get back to painting a broader spectrum of subjects. This new phase of her art "blossomed," reflecting her love for flowers, which she photographs on location and grows in her garden. Friendship and pets are also frequent subjects of her latest works, which direct the passion inherent in her dance pieces into portrayals of intimate conversation among friends, family portraits and the beauty of her garden's bounty. She also creates realistic images of wine and other beverages. Her technical skill, use of color and stroke, and depth of feeling, combine to produce engaging images.
What’s your preferred medium to paint? Have you tried different mediums before?
My favorite medium is oil painting. I love the creamy texture and the many ways I can manipulate them. I mainly paint in thin layers building up depth, but will venture with an impasto technique if the subject requires it. Sometimes I use my oil paint thinned down with Gamsol or Turpenoid and let them run which creates wonderful patterns that I can use in my paintings. I have tried acrylics and water color. I would have to say I really enjoy painting with transparent water colors on small projects. I use acrylics if I am doing large projects like murals. Years ago, I created prisma colored penciil paintings and have been toying with the idea of trying those again.
Who is/are your favorite living artists?
Suzanne Rusconi Accetta, my favorite artist, is my inspiration and someone I had the honor of studying under for a few years while in high shcool/college. To this day I can hear what she had to say about drawing and painting, composition and color. I do follow many realistic artists also that I admire, such as, Mary Whtye, Harold Lovell, Nanci France-Vaz, Jenny Fusca and many more.
What is your favorite museum?
There is nothing like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but I did visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art last year and thought it was wonderful. So many times’ we just do not take the opportunity to soak up what museums have to offer. I love to sit and think about what inspired the artist to paint what he/she did, and study the brush strokes and color.
What’s the meanest thing someone has said about your art? How did you respond?
I was standing at my booth at an art show and a gentleman walked up and starting telling me, not knowing who I was, that the artist that did these paintings was horrible. That the renditions of the subject matter were cartoonish and had no substance. I smiled and said - everyone has an opinion and not every style is for everyone and then I walked away.
Who was you biggest supporter when you decided to pursue art as a career?
My parents. I started out as a piano performance major in college but soon realized my passion was really fine art. They supported me in my I change of majors, switching schools and I have been pursuing my art ever since.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to make art for a living?
Paint what you love, always, and continue your passion. Practice and paint or draw everyday to perfect your art. Have a goal and go after it. Keep in mind that if this is your sole income, you might have to delve into other areas like graphic arts or commissions to support what you are passionate about.
Rhonda's Favorite Trekell Products:
Rhonda's favorite Trekell products include; our Oil Ground Panels, Gamvar Varnish by Gamblin, the limited edition Pro Team Tony Curanaj Brush Set, and our Trekell Spectrum Brushes.
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