Laurie Rumery moved to Illinois 46 years ago when her husband accepted a teaching position at the University of Illinois, and she has lived in the area ever since. When her daughter was getting ready to attend U of I, Rumery came across a course for hot and cold glass, and was intrigued. She ended up taking a glass blowing class at Parkland and fell in love with it, eventually going on to open a glass blowing studio in Monticello with her husband and a business partner. Rumery has now begun exploring other art forms including watercolors, ceramics, drawing, oil painting, and acrylic paint pouring. After coming across her work on the Boneyard Arts Festival website and learning a little about her history, I wanted to learn more about her art practice. Here’s what she had to say.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Smile Politely: On your website you compared fluid acrylic painting to glass work in that “It’s not so much ‘what does this look like, but ‘how does this make me feel?’” How does this idea influence your approach to each of those mediums?
Laurie Rumery: I tend to be a “realistic” painter. I strive to capture the reality of what I’m painting and can be unhappy if perspective is off or the color isn’t exactly what I see. I was trying to bring more spontaneity to my artistic approach by exploring fluid art. It was also one of the things I loved about glass blowing. They are both very “in the moment” for me. If it’s not progressing the way I envisioned the project, I can make moment to moment decisions about where the piece is going. To me, they are very “collaborative” art forms. The mediums are almost interacting with me. I would like to introduce this feeling into my paintings, a certain lightness and joy that I find in painting loosely and not taking myself so seriously!
SP: Can you walk us through your process of creating an acrylic fluid painting?
Rumery: This is a fascinating process, especially for anyone who has ever worked with paint before. One would expect that if you poured many different colors of acrylic paint one on top of the other, either directly on a canvas or into a cup, you would get a muddy mess; but that is not what happens here! By mixing acrylic paint with a medium (as simple as white glue or as expensive as some pouring mediums) and pouring each color one on top of the other in a cup, then pouring that cup of paint out onto a surface, you get amazing, almost magical, results. It is accessible to anyone, of almost any age, but it can be surprisingly challenging once you start applying the rules of good artistic composition to your work: focal point, balance, and contrast, among other things. I encourage the reader to investigate YouTube for an introduction to this medium, because there are different ways to get interesting reactions from the paint and many different creators demonstrating their use of the medium. I have also combined acrylic pouring with oil paint by pouring a background on the canvas and then, once dried, painting over it with oil paint.
SP: I know you are taking a hiatus from glasswork these days, but your work is so beautiful! Do you see yourself eventually going back to it?
Rumery: Thank you! Unfortunately, I would now have to say that I am retired from blowing glass. It is just not an accessible art form, unless you have a hot shop available to you, which I do not. I have done some fusing in my kiln.
SP: When working with different mediums, do you find it difficult to switch back and forth, for instance, from watercolors to acrylic on a given day?
Rumery: I don’t do them on the same day, as each of the mediums (watercolor, acrylic, glass fusing and now oil painting) take a certain amount of set-up to use them. Once I’m set up, I’m usually going to stay with that medium until the project is completed. It is challenging for me to switch back and forth from watercolor to oil painting, as some of the techniques are different (for instance, you usually work from “light to dark” in watercolor and “dark to light” in oil painting). I’m also still getting used to how much time an oil painting can take (you’ve heard the phrase “watching paint dry”?). With watercolor and a hairdryer, I can work as long as my back and eyesight will allow!
SP: What are you currently working on?
Rumery: Right now, I’m in the midst of taking my second oil painting class with Joan Stoltz! I have a few watercolor pet portraits to finish for friends and family members and I recently completed a watercolor portrait of my best friend and me entitled “Two Old Ladies Take a Selfie”
SP: What has been the most rewarding and most challenging projects you’ve completed to date?
Without a doubt, the most challenging artistic endeavor I have undertaken has been learning to blow glass. It is extremely rewarding to have people spontaneously tell me, “I have a piece of your work [painting or glass] and I just love it!”
Honestly, every time I undertake a new project, I find it challenging to sit in front of that blank piece of paper or canvas or glass work table, take a deep breath, and embark on creating something new. It’s personally rewarding just to triumph and come out the other side having completed the vision.
My art life can also be challenging for those around me. When I’m working on an art project, time just disappears. This can be a problem for my husband and my two dogs, who may be left waiting for dinner while I’m involved in a project!
SP: Is there any place around C-U where people can check out your art?
Rumery: I am currently in a painting group, Stone Path Artists, and we occasionally participate in local art shows and sales. We have displayed and sold our work for two years now at the Master Gardener’s Garden Walk in the Inspiration Garden in Urbana.
You can see more of Rumery’s art on her website.