About the Artist
Vibrant color and sparkling light are the hallmarks of Amanda Schuster’s artwork. Every painting is filled with contrasts of sunlit passages against rich shadows, of pure, vivid pigments against soft, luscious neutrals. Quite often, her color palette for a painting relies upon opposing colors on the color wheel—blue and orange, yellow and purple, red and green. All this contrast leads to drama and excitement that captures your attention and invites you into her work.
Viewing a collection of Amanda’s artwork, it’s also clear that she enjoys painting a wide range of subjects, from flowers and other still life subjects to animals and people in landscape settings. All of them are based on the photographs she shoots as she travels near and far. But whether she’s in Peru or Africa or right in her own backyard, Amanda says one of her most important tools in the early stage of her creative process is her camera. “When I see something that gives me a good feeling, I try to work out a really great composition and wait for the ideal light,” she explains. Later, as she reviews her photos, she looks for those that have a strong design of interesting shapes to use as the basis for her paintings.
And then the excitement begins. Amanda typically applies layer after layer of watercolor, often requiring as many as 20 hours to complete one painting. “I often think of my paint colors as my friends,” she says with a smile. “I know which colors will bring a sky to life, which ones you can trust to make a good skin color, and which ones will dull down an area without deadening it.” Along the way, she demonstrates her mastery of the full spectrum of techniques, applying the paint freely and nearly abstractly in some areas and juxtaposing those passages against tightly controlled areas. It’s yet another form of contrast that adds drama to her work. “That’s the fun part for me,” she adds.
Another common theme in Amanda Schuster’s work is nature, which has always played an important role in her life and art. Growing up on a farm in Montana, she recalls spending a lot of time drawing, especially horses. “It was a way of life that allowed for a lot of free time to simply observe and appreciate nature,” she reflects. “That’s where I learned to notice the details and the beauty in everything, from the sunlight falling across the land to the beautiful colors of a rooster’s feathers.”
She continued practicing her art in college, where she studied design and architecture. However, she admits, “watercolor was definitely my first love. In college my favorite classes were the drawing and rendering classes, and I still love to do pen and ink with watercolor.” About 10 years ago, Amanda decided to devote herself to studying the medium in earnest, learning to master what many artists consider to be the most challenging of all painting media. She signed on for some classes at the Kirkland Art Center, where she studied with noted watercolorist Elizabeth Kincaid, who soon became Amanda’s mentor.
As she continues to evolve artistically, Amanda draws inspiration from a surprisingly diverse range of influences. In architecture school, her big hero was Mies Van der Rohe. Amanda loved his concept of “less is more,” which has continuously inspired her to seek simple elegance in her approach to design. In fine art painting, Amanda has felt a kinship with the French Impressionists, due to their shared love of beauty and their use of vibrant layers of color, as well as 20th century artist Georgia O’Keefe, known for her oversized, close-up floral paintings. Recently, while on a trip to Iceland, Amanda says she developed a new interest in graffiti and street art. “I feel that it can have a very powerful influence politically, and I love the loose, creative, and colorful style that many of the better artists can have with their public art.” Given her broad range of interests, it’s not surprising that Amanda has branched out into a new a medium in recent years: acrylics. In this realm, she practices many of the same techniques used for her watercolors, but feels free to add more textural qualities and be a bit looser in her paint application.
Now living in Woodinville, Washington, with her family, Amanda is an active participant in the local art community. With paintings represented in many private collections across Seattle’s Eastside and beyond, this award-winning artist is currently represented by Parklane Gallery in Kirkland, Washington. She has earned Signature Membership in the prestigious Northwest Watercolor Society, and has participated in several group exhibitions sponsored by that organization as well as others. Adding a unique twist to her art career, one of her paintings was chosen by Goose Ridge Wines in Woodinville to appear on one of their artists’ series labels. “Woodinville is a big wine town,” she notes, “and being a local, I was really thrilled to be chosen.”
“I think most of my works are an homage to beauty, both in nature and in people,” the artist adds. “What I strive to evoke in my images is whatever I felt was most beautiful about the subject, be it the light, the atmosphere, or the love in a pet’s eyes.” For more information about Amanda Schuster and her artwork, please contact the artist directly.