Intricate, illustrative, and whimsical, Folk artist Irene Gates’ mixed media painting explores the textural depth of materiality. Gates employs a wide range of media to create a story that is lush with both two-dimensional and three-dimensional details and surprises. Using various layers—from the newsprint text in the background to the rose lace in the foreground—Gates tells a charming story of wilderness, imagination, and friendship. (Merritt Gallery)
To achieve her layered compositions, Gates uses various techniques, including collage and washes.
"I work with care to create contemporary folk art that people can connect with and share a smile," says Gates. Find an artwork that makes you smile!
- How does Gates use color to create mood in her work?
- Pattern is prevalent in her work. I bet you can think of other examples of folk art that use patterns!
- How does Gates’ use of mixed media influence the meaning of her work?
- Compare Gates’ work to the work of Faith Ringgold below. What similarities and differences can you find?
- Create a Folk Art Drawing, painting, or mixed media collage. Incorporate some of Irene Gate’s color schemes, simplified figures, and LOTS of patterns! Make someone SMILE!
Irene Gates is a self-taught contemporary folk artist living in Douglas, Michigan. Born in Illinois in 1957, she grew up surrounded by creativity passed down from her artistic family.
Gates seeks to pull from everyday life to create fantastic folk art scenes that tug at the imagination. She creates contemporary folk art using mixed media, including old and new papers, fabric, acrylic paint, chalks, colored pencils, and oil pastels. Her images focus primarily on the female form engaging in nature. Her influences range from masters like Modigliani to doll artist Akira Blount. Gates' philosophy of art is inspired by how a simple moment in our everyday lives can become a whimsical story. She joyfully relays these stories on her multi-layered canvases. Her goal is to share these moments with others and make people smile.
"I work with care to create contemporary folk art that people can connect with and share a smile," says Gates.
Gates has 30 years of experience exhibiting her work throughout the United States in private galleries and public art shows, ranging from Tucson, Arizona, to New York City. (Alexander’s Fine Art)