A born Midwesterner, Abigail Engstrand has lived and worked most of her life within a few miles of Lake Michigan. She earned her B.F.A. and her Art Teaching certificate at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in 1988. Since then, she’s lived in California and Georgia and has visited 40 states and 3 continents. She currently resides in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, where she raised 3 healthy humans who have successfully left their nest. She is a member of Milwaukee Artists Resource Network, Pewaukee Area Arts Council and ARC Gallery and Education Foundation in Chicago. Engstrand’s art is in private collections across the United States, and in France, Austria, Italy, and Thailand. In addition to her watercolor, acrylic, mixed-media paintings and wool felts, Abigail has created numerous murals for private individuals, businesses and schools, as well as stage backdrops for plays. Another way she enjoys engaging the public is her practice of 5 minute live charcoal portraits. Her studio practice is set to music. She loves to enliven space with color, find connecting threads, hidden images, draw out allegory, and make art that carries memories forward.
Mediums: Painting, fibers
Favorite Artist Tool: My fingers and thumbs in concert with large brushes and tiny barbed needles
Go-to Local Inspiration: Lake Michigan and again, going, growing places
Mentor Compliment: Maeve Jackson’s patient eyes counsel me in brevity.
Fun Fact: I gave birth to conjoined twins. Eighteen years later I survived breast cancer.
Serious Fact: My favorite color is the sun glowing in my living children’s ears.
What drives my art is a deep awareness of all of my senses, including the sense of time, and relationships.
I begin by falling in love with the way light creates colors.
I love hearing water move as I swirl my paintbrush, listening to music as I work.
My fingers are my favorite instrument, working with fibers; feeling the warmth, the rough, the soft and silky textures while shaping them.
Natural lanolin has a memory-triggering scent. I occasionally add drops of other essential oils relevant to my subject.
I try NOT to put my materials in my mouth.
The natural fibers I use are made of dead cells once part of living animals. They hold the story of many life cycles and practical upcycles in relation to human life. I love to make portraits of people and my surroundings, to explore my life on Earth, and all relationships herein, comparisons, contrasts, and full-circle connections.