Imogene Drummond Artist

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Imogene Drummond

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Tapping the Feminine Subconscious

Self-portrait in the Venus position, composed by Imogene Drummond in Hawaii.

     My career has developed serpentinely.

     I received my MFA in the spring of 1983 and began painting full-time in my studio.  It was difficult.  I didn’t know what to paint, but I went to the studio everyday and picked up my paint brushes.  For the next several years, I painted continually, frequently experimenting with multi-media, three dimensional materials and images.  My paintings were often in shows in the Washington, D.C. area, but nothing seemed to come of it.  My shows and paintings were met with consistent silence.  I became completely frustrated waiting for something to happen.  So, I decided to take my life into my own hands. I rented out my house and departed on a painting expedition.

     In 1987, I traveled to the South Pacific, and painted in Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as at an artist colony in Hawaii.  It was during this time that I started painting differently.  I felt that I had reached down inside myself and pulled out a voice that was mine, and not derivative of anyone around me.  Somehow, traveling on my own had forced me to know myself better and rely solely on myself.  I was able to overcome my natural reflex to be automatically silent or to mask my true feelings to cope with stress and conflict.  I found ways to harness the abstract, energetic way I painted and paint clear, identifiable images and still have lots of gestural painting in my work.  I also devised a way of painting on a piece of paper within a larger piece of paper creating an architectural “frame” for the painting.

     The following year I painted in a basic loft that overlooked Broadway in New York’s SoHo.  I continued to explore the imagery I had begun in Hawaii, which was related to the ancient petroglyphs I had seen there.  I spent the summer at an artist colony in Pennsylvania, and created a series of lake paintings which were exhibited there and also in SoHo that fall.

     The inspiration I had found during my earlier painting expedition to the South Pacific motivated me to explore sacred sites in Asia to see what effect they would have on my work.  I packed my paints again in 1989 and tramped through much of Asia, painting in nature preserves and bungalows in India and Bali.

    Ultimately, I returned to the artist colony in Hawaii.  My paintings expanded in scale (6 x 9 feet) compared to my earlier work of 2 x 3 feet.  Upon my return to New York, I pushed my paintings further by extending them onto the frames; that is I painted the frames, too.  I was pleased and relieved when this experiment worked!  These works were exhibited at an invitational show in SoHo.

     My career expands the more I paint, exhibit, and discover how interconnected we are with ancient cultures.  Since 1989 I have had a one-person show annually, painted for six months in Hawaii, and have developed a wonderful group of collectors including Ambassador James Wilkinson, Kitty Kelley, and the International Center for Peace and the Arts.

     My iconography is developing well.  Shapes that originally sprang from my subconscious are being reinforced and clarified by my readings on prehistoric art and mythology.  Spirals, egg and shell shapes, banners or serpents, crescent moons and simplistic figures reappear in my paintings.  The more I read the more I realized that these images are not just universal images, they are images from Paleolithic, Neolithic and Minoan cultures, and intuitive cultures around the globe.

    My research brought to light a description of my paintings that I believe well suits them:  They are modern versions of pre-patriarchal art.  The female figures in my art are related to the ancient Venus figures.  Painting for me is a journey of self-discovery and a way to honor the sacredness of life.