Austin’s Unique Art Environment
Inspired by the mantra “Keep Austin Weird”, the community of artists in Central Texas has produced a wealth of eclectic, unusual and unique art. This takes the form of sculpture, drawing and painting – as well as graphic design, photography and performance art. And, of course, our city is widely known as ‘The Live Music Capitol of the World’.
A lot of the paintings from my Unique Art collection are unusual figure studies, portraits or landscape paintings of well-known Austin landmarks. I like to give people who haven’t visited Austin (and those who have) impressions of some of the style, attitude and quirkiness that make Austin art unique. A flair for capturing these revered landmarks, cultural icons and familiar scenes is one of the hallmarks of artists here in Central Texas.
Some of My More Unusual Artwork
Here are some examples of my early efforts at unique art. I began serious painting with the creation of my ‘Rasta Art’ collection, parodies of classic masterpiece paintings – modified to include dreadlocks and Rastafarian attire. In addition to the ‘Rasta Lisa‘ shown here, I also painted Rasta-fied versions of Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’, Picasso’s ‘Dora Maar’, Van Gogh’s ‘Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear’, and a couple paintings of Bob Marley with exaggerated dreads.
Subsequently, I have been painting quirky (if not unique) artistic figure studies including exaggerated interpretations of Botero’s ‘The Letter’ and my own ‘Two Steppin’ and ‘Mermaids’. These have given me good practice in composing and painting human forms, and creating the impressionistic effects I’m trying to produce.
Quirky and Unique Art Examples
The online art gallery on my main website has a more complete exhibition of my unique art portfolio, particularly the early oil paintings.
More recently, I ran across one of my favorite childhood toys from the ‘60s, and memorialized it with this ‘Classic Troll’ oil painting. I was surprised and gratified to hear from several friends about the troll dolls they had as children, and how much they enjoyed reliving their troll adventures and fantasies.
Another more contemporary example of quirky figurative art is my ‘Devlish Charmer’ — the mascot of Torchy’s Tacos, an Austin-based taco restaurant. This painting captures the essence of the 3’ long bright red figure suspended over the dining area, and brings back memories of some great meals and conversations. This is an unexpected and delightful form of Impressionism; in addition to our brains filling in the details of the painting, they also associate the image with previous experiences and memories.
More Unique Art by Valerie RawlingsInspired by two of my sons’ favorite landmarks, I painted ‘360 Bridge’ (shown here) and ‘Austin Hotel’ (shown in a blog post here and on my Austin oil painting website. These are venerable and familiar places to all Austinites, and inspire lots of good feelings and memories.
In the future, I’m planning to paint even more unique art compositions, particularly some of the classic (pre-high rise) downtown buildings and landscapes. Maybe an animal painting of the famous Austin bats flying above the Congress Avenue bridge, or the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue at Auditorium Shores. We certainly have a lot of potential subjects for quirky, unusual and unique art here – stay tuned!