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Archive for Wednesday, January 20, 1999

ARTIST KEEPS THE PAINT FLOWING

January 20, 1999

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Baldwin City artist Evonne English finds no shortage of inspiration.

Throughout the Baldwin City home of artist Evonne English are pieces of Asian art -- china cups, a calligraphy banner and an intricately carved elephant tusk.

She and her husband have long been fascinated by the Far East.

For English, 64, it is the simplicity that draws her.

That simplicity shows up in her own paintings.

Hers are not intricate drawings but swirls of color hinting at, though not reproducing, geological forms: a landscape, a hill or a rock. Examples of her work can be found at Art Affair and the gallery in Aardvark Foto Grafix, both in Baldwin City.

"Rock formations kind of represent stability and relative permanence," she said.

The images are stable, not boring or limiting.

"It's a kind of strength that suggests many other things," English said. "There's no limit with this."

With water, paint and brushes, English allows the paint to flow and gives the image the freedom to create itself.

"The idea is to control it enough, but not too much," she said. "That's the difficult part, really."

After experimenting with other media and styles as a young artist, English has spent the last 15 years or so working in water colors.

"I've been surprised how long I've stayed with the idea," she said. "I keep finding different ways to use the paint."

English was born in Cherokee, Iowa. The seeds of her artistic career were planted on the same farm where her father tended rows of corn and soybeans.

She earned a bachelor's degree at Drake University and then taught high school and junior high art in Illinois between courses toward her master's at the University of Iowa.

She then taught at Wisconsin State College in Whitewater, Wis., and at Stephen F. Austin College in Nacogdoches, Tex.

That's where she met her husband, John English, who in 1965 took a job at Baker University. They were married in 1966, and she moved to join him in Baldwin City.

It has been a good partnership, one that has allowed her to be a full-time artist -- a luxury enjoyed by few.

"Artists really do have problems trying to make a living at their primary interest," English said.

The Englishes don't live in luxury. They have lived in the same house on the east side of Baldwin City for 24 years.

English's studio is by her admission "makeshift," taking up most of the kitchen and dining area.

But English is satisfied.

"I really prefer having a studio at home," she said.

English doesn't work every day. But when she works, she works long and hard -- morning, noon and into the night.

"I can work really intensely for a time," she said.

And she doesn't expect to slow down any time soon.

"Life is not long enough to follow up on everything," she said.

Nor does she have a problem coming up with new ideas.

"I hope ideas never stop coming," she said. "Of course, we never know, do we?"

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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