This story was featured in the August 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Pastel painter Amanda Houston dances along the line between realism and abstraction, between her left brain and her right brain. On one side, her portraits of birds on copper plates include each species’ distinct markings and fine details that are lauded by birders across the country. On the other side, her landscapes show a looser hand and a fondness for vibrant, golden-hour colors. “I find I am inspired by the edges of our day, the morning and evening lights that cast shadows and give me that peaceful feeling,” Houston says.
After a long career in the corporate arena, Houston settled down to begin her family. She took local painting classes and began painting full time after retiring from her job at age 40. In her creative process, she finds a balance between the analytical and emotional. “Most realist painters are painting with the left side of the brain, so it’s very comfortable,” she says. “To stop analyzing and thinking and to just let it flow becomes a daily exercise for me.” Houston says she believes her lifelong journey is to loosen up her work.
Houston finds endless inspiration in the backdrop of everyday life. “It can be the most mundane road in the middle of nowhere, and the light can hit it just right and it’s beautiful,” she says. Houston’s work can be seen at Scott Milo Gallery, Anacortes, WA; American Art Company, Tacoma, WA; Clearwater Gallery, Sisters, OR; Cole Gallery, Edmonds, WA; Valley Art Gallery, Forest Grove, OR; Attic Gallery, Camas, WA; and www.amandahouston.com. —Mackenzie McCreary