- IMAGE BY SARAH WINKLER
In fact, 2009 turned out to be a bountiful year for the artist who, in addition to having a two-month exhibit at one of San Luis Obispo’s most popular restaurants, found herself joining Studios on the Park in Paso Robles in October. If that wasn’t evidence enough that Winkler’s work is surging in demand, just check the artist’s website which lists more than one-third of her “Enchanted Landscapes” series as sold. In December alone, she sold five paintings. Not bad for an artist who recently considered moving to a more urban venue to further her career.
Winkler’s enchanted landscapes were inspired by a road trip to Las Vegas, part of her annual pilgrimage to the city of sin and slots to see Cirque du Soleil. Had she not become an artist, Winkler insists that she would have joined the circus.
“When I was in Vegas it happened to coincide with Chinese New Year,” she explained. The Bellagio was filled with red silk Chinese lanterns. The lamps—a symbol of newness—melded with the desert landscape, 400 miles of pavement and little else between Winkler’s home in Atascadero and her Las Vegas destination. For an artist whose work is characterized by layers of ideas and textures, the marriage of two such distinctive cultures and aesthetics was irresistible.
- IMAGE BY SARAH WINKLER
“I just love how something as simple as a lantern can come to mean so much,” she explained. “We put a lot of energy into making an object mean something.”
Recently, figures have started to emerge from acrylic paint, Chinese text, ink, glitter, and Citra-solved magazine pages, in place of the lanterns. Many of the figures are costumed or masked, described by Winkler as “symbols of who we want to be” rather than real people. The white tutu-clad ballerina in “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright,” named for William Blake’s poem “The Tiger,” can attribute her existence to happenstance. During the creation process, part of the landscape was torn leaving a diamond pattern in the piece.
“The shape haunted me. Eventually it turned into a dance form. And then it became a ballerina,” explained Winkler. “I don’t force myself to paint a landscape. I take a lot of detours. When you approach your art form it should be fluid. You shouldn’t have hang-ups.”
Artistic voyeurs interested in seeing how this melding of techniques and materials plays out can visit Winkler at her new home at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles (1130 Pine St.). The Studio is open Thursday to Sunday between noon and 6 p.m. Winkler calls the studios, home to two-dozen or so artists, “the most exciting thing that’s happened in the art world locally.” Since joining, Winkler’s sales have tripled. More exciting still, the bulk of her sales are to tourists from out-of-state. It’s enabled her to remain within the county and focus on her art. At a larger scale, the studios are lending legitimacy to all the artist-residents. Which enables Winkler to keep her focus where she wants it—on her art.
“People have described it as whimsical, but dark,” she said of her paintings. “I don’t really do girly girly or frilly frilly.”
Arts Editor Ashley Schwellenbach has been described as dark, but whimsical. Send coco puffs to firstname.lastname@example.org.