2012 Mixed Media Winner

2012 Mixed Media Winner

 This year marked Madison Magazine‘s first ever Mixed Media contest. With our August issue’s cover designed around Sap, a painting by Madison artist T.L. Solien, we asked readers to create one-of-a-kind designs influenced by Sap and submit them to our Mixed Media contest. We received submissions ranging from a table arrangement to an original fashion design.  We selected Swing Me [shown at right], a monoprint by Merikay Payne as the Mixed Media contest winner. 

We asked Payne to answer a few questions about her background, inspirations, technique and more.

Where did you grow up and go to school?

I grew up in Monticello, Wisconsin, and attended Monticello grade and high school. Our two-story white house, with a swing on the porch, was set quite far back from the street.

What is your art background? How did you become interested in creating monoprints? 

My art path had many twists. As a child I dreamed how wonderful it would be to immerse myself in art. Sometimes the elementary school teachers would do an art project. But there were no dedicated art classes or teachers.

When I left for the university I was going to be an elementary teacher with an art minor. I did well in my art classes but did not have confidence. I changed majors and graduated with a journalism degree.
I got married, had three children and worked for various university offices as a police dispatcher, degree summaries auditor, secretary and librarian assistant. During this time I went back part time to Madison Area Technical College.

It took sixteen years to complete the MATC two-year commercial art degree. The design knowledge and technical skills serve me well as an artist at UW Continuing Studies.

As part of my job I had a chance to attend a university leadership meeting. Our small group was to discuss what we really wanted to do with our lives. I said I wanted to be an artist. An engineer in our group asked, then why wasn’t I? I went back to the university for a second undergraduate degree in art.

I produced art and went to Continuing Studies classes. I met other artists and a framer who has helped me considerably. I joined Dane County art organizations.  I exhibited and went to shows to sell my art and I recently taught a UW Continuing Studies class on how to write an artist statement.

Relief printmaking appeals to my sense of adventure; printing on the surface of something and taking ink off the surface, which is the opposite of etching. It is experimental. Adjustment in technique and thought process are always necessary.”

Please describe the different parts of Swing Me.

This moment in time is one of the few when my brother was not throwing baseballs at my head or engaged in some other nefarious activity towards me. My brother wasn’t wonderful to me all the time but would occasionally be nice and during those rare moments, I would like him to swing me on the swing and that would make me so happy. 

I attached the figure image printed on a piece of acetate, so that you are viewing the scene from inside the house. I attached the acetate only at the top so I could always swing.

As you enter Swing Me at the bottom of the monoprint, you sashay up our sidewalk and steps toward the house. When you walk past the tree shape you are walking onto the porch. At the bottom juncture of the picture window and gold wallpaper you enter the house and turn around to look out at the the porch. The gray stairway wallpaper is to your right and my parents’ bedroom wallpaper is to your left. My brother is pushing me on the swing so I can almost touch the ceiling. I am so small that you can’t see me. A geranium box sitting next to the steps is just below the pillar. All I can see is a sea of summer green.

What or who inspires your art?

I like the liveliness of impressionistic brush strokes and the succinctness of Matisse. The Conversation by Matisse is one of my favorite pieces. The painting depicts two people in pajamas that are not happy with each other. I like the fact that is it realistic and it hits home to people’s lives. I also think titles are very important! I feel a piece is not done until it has a perfect title.

My childhood also inspires much of my art. Even the flower art pieces that I do are based upon the fact that my mother always had a lot of flowers around and would make necklaces out of them.

What techniques do you mostly use?  

I like whatever technique I know of or can make up that can produce the story I am trying to tell. I often add collage for narration.

Monoprints are so experimental and can do a multitude of things. Collographs is another technique that I like. It includes using a liquid glue on Masonite and you can move it around with your fingers to make grooves in the glue.

I learned these techniques at the university. I also have a neighbor who is an art teacher who teaches me new techniques. I am fortunate to have people around me that share this information.

What did you find interesting about T.L Solien’s Sap, which was your influence for Swing Me?

I saw Solien’s paintings in Madison Magazine and at the [museum]. The docent’s description made a connection with me about autobiographical mystery.

What do you find is the most important influence in your art? 

I think I have been most influenced by the massive amounts of textures and colors in the home where I grew up. In the dining room with the huge picture window, featured in Swing Me, there was large-flowered wallpaper, striped drapes, a paisley rug, dropped ceilings and an ornate light fixture leftover from before the ceiling was lowered. Brightly colored vases made from dripping crayons down the side, small vases decorated with jewelry, and rag rugs—texture and color did not go to waste.

See more of Merikay Payne’s art at artallusions.com.

To see a gallery of all Mixed Media entries, visit .