Streams Of Life
● By Sandie Tillery
story: Sandie Tillery photo: Heather Armstrong
REDDING ABSTRACT PAINTER RAINA PRATT
She has entered the world of accomplished artists through the academic door, but her intuitive process gives life to her paintings. Raina Pratt’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the University of Montana in Missoula and the achievements of her academic years have given her the tools to excel while her flourishing creative gift pools and shimmers in each painting. She has set a high standard for herself as an artist, not afraid to paint over work that doesn’t satisfy her. Every piece that wears her signature represents an achievement in her pursuit of excellence.
Raina Pratt has been inspired and set free to express herself by family members who have modeled and encouraged creativity all of her life. The pursuit of art was never second best to academics. Her grandmother Shirley introduced her to painting; her mother showed her how to “make things beautiful.” Her husband Brian partners with her in “incorporating art as a lifestyle.”
Her early school years were difficult. But later, she was given a full academic scholarship for a third year at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana, where “art came alive in me,” Pratt says. She immersed herself in a full range of artistic forms and media. John Rawlings, one of her instructors, challenged her about art as a vocation, asking, “Can you NOT do it?” That is when she decided to major in something that she would use in her whole life because it was meaningful to her, whether it seemed practical or not. She later graduated from the University of Montana with honors.
She credits Rawlings for inspiring his students to be thinking artists. At the University of Montana, MaryAnn Bonjorni and Cathryn Mallory became her mentors. All are working artists themselves as well as instructors and “teach out of a passion to speak eloquently through their art,” remembers Pratt.
Before moving to Redding two years ago with their young family, Pratt experienced success in juried and private exhibitions. She has participated in 2nd Saturday Art Hop since July 2009 and has completed several commission pieces this year as well. She paints this word picture of her artistic gift:
“I have an intuitive process of painting, exploring color, movement and emotion. I love the push and pull between concrete and suggested imagery. Working in abstraction allows me to play with these dynamics. When I’m painting, I love to let go and let everything else fade into the background. Expectations diminish and I am in the moment, listening to music, painting my heart and life into visual expression.”
Pratt paints on wood panels with acrylics. She uses water to create “an organic effect of pools and streams.” Contrasts of depth and flatness create a visual space while suggesting “emotional space that exists without dimension.” She chooses materials that give her freedom to apply a range of treatments producing texture and movement, layers “built up and pushed down, creating a rich surface as the old, smooth layers compliment and inform the newer layers.”
She usually works on more than one painting at a time, waiting for inspiration before returning to a piece. Early in the process, Pratt lets water on the panel dictate movement and form, using a brush only to move the paint, which allows the “pooling” to affect the imagery. Landscapes often emerge both intentionally and serendipitously as her paintings take shape. During her early college years, she had a job applying faux finishes on interior walls in homes. She now integrates some of those faux techniques into her art work and seals all her pieces with a waxy finish.
Pratt is a thinker who collects interesting and meaningful words to complete each piece, thus occasionally inspiring the direction of the streams and pools on her canvas. Her spiritual life is an integral component of her intricately woven lifestyle, adding to the depth, texture, color and contrasts of all that she does.
Check out more of Raina Pratt’s artwork on her website, rainapratt.com, and visit her exhibit at Parmer’s Furniture & Design, 333 Park Marina Circle during this month’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop on December 12.