Mary Wojciechowski “pushes the envelope” by seeking new ways of creating fine art. A professional background as a middle school art teacher, and an award-winning watercolorist, has led her to innovative ways to paint; incorporating non-traditional, non-absorbent surfaces and a serendipitous new medium: alcohol ink.
Alcohol ink is a highly pigmented and quick-drying fluid medium applied by pouring or brushing on a non-porous surface such as the polymer-like “yupo” paper. The inks’ vibrant colors pool together, creating unique textural effects, and the slippery surface lends itself to unexpected results. Wojciechowski alternately uses a straw, an airbrush or a can of compressed air to create more movement with the inks. Exploring the properties and artistic possibilities of alcohol inks has become her passion and she has begun sharing her knowledge and experiences in exploring these inks through teaching workshops throughout southern New England.
For most of her lifelong artistic journey, she has been painting primarily in watercolor, always drawn to the fluidity and the chance opportunities for intermingling colors. Presently, working almost equally with both mediums, she has discovered an unusual relationship between painting in watercolor and alcohol inks. “When I first saw this new medium, it appealed to me because of its similarity to watercolors in regard to the fluidity and movement of colors but the likeness ends there.” She says she now understands that these two mediums actually have an inverse relationship as the initial painting approach is ‘flipped’. In watercolor, the development is more ‘cerebral’, beginning with line and value sketches, planning composition, then allowing for improvisation while painting and allowing the water and pigment to migrate. “With alcohol ink”, she says, “I start intuitively, allow the inks to take charge and flow across the surface while creating unusual textures as they dry. It is after this initial pour that I see opportunities to continue a painting as an abstract or as a landscape or floral. I love that I have found opportunities to experience the unique qualities of each medium and have found that working with each has had a powerful impact on the other.”
Wojciechowski majored in painting and art history at the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts. “After graduating, my career as a visual arts teacher allowed me to merge my love of art with working with young people,” says Wojciechowski. “Young children don’t necessarily think that the arts are as important as other subjects, so working closely with our seventh-grade art teacher, we worked to change that perspective. Our students soon found something inside themselves that they had not previously been aware of and found personal growth and achievement through the arts.”
“Gaining representation exclusively on Cape Cod by Gallery 31 Fine Art six years ago was a milestone for me. After years of exhibiting regionally and nationally, being a part of ’31’ and working with Sherry Rhyno, artist and owner of this Orleans gallery, increased my confidence as an artist. It opened my eyes to a broader understanding of the gallery experience, particularly marketing,” remarks Wojciechowski. “Sherry’s encouragement, especially of my alcohol ink paintings, combined with client purchases of these new works, has been very validating to me as an artist and motivates me to continue exploring new creative avenues.”
Prior to the pandemic, Wojciechowski says, “I was running around a lot, teaching workshops; I was as busy as when I was teaching full-time.” All of that has been on hold since March 2020, and she has grown all the more grateful for art. “When I’m painting, there is no pandemic; it’s as though I’m enveloped in a safety net.” For the first month, she says, “I couldn’t touch the inks. I didn’t have it in me to be playful or explorative at that time. I painted in watercolor every day and chose my reference photos and drawings from beautiful areas on the Cape that my husband and I had experienced throughout the years. It was a way of moving out of our ‘stay at home’ status and revisiting Cape treasures. I felt true comfort every day while I was painting and completed many Cape watercolors during that first month of COVID. It’s really amazing how we are wired, isn’t it?” – Chris White
Mary Wojciechowski is represented exclusively on Cape Cod by Gallery 31 Fine Art in Orleans. 508-247-9469 • gallery31capecod.com • “Flying Colors” exhibit opening August 22, 2020
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