Dancing Around the Canvas

Eau Claire painter to hold open studio event

Bailey Berg, photos by Andrea Paulseth

THE SPLATTERS THAT MATTER. Painter Dana Sterzinger dumps her paint, pours it, splatters it, blows it, scrapes it off the canvas, wipes it around, and more.
THE SPLATTERS THAT MATTER. Painter Dana Sterzinger dumps her paint, pours it,
splatters it, blows it, scrapes it off the canvas, wipes it around, and more.

Like many artists, Dana Sterzinger draws inspiration from the greats – namely Jackson Pollack, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali. But unlike other area artists, she also draws inspiration from a 1960s artistic movement that incorporates elements of dance into the creative process.

“Essentially I’m dancing around and around my canvas as I paint,” Sterzinger says. “It’s a very messy process.”

What makes Sterzinger’s work different from what you may have seen is how she goes about applying the paint to canvas.

“Basically, I try to find as many different ways to apply paint
as I can without using a brush.”
– painter Dana Sterzinger, on her preferred technique 

“Basically, I try to find as many different ways to apply paint as I can without using a brush,” she says.

As she pirouettes around the canvas Sterzinger dumps the paint, pours it, splatters it, blows it, scrapes it off the canvas, wipes it around with a rag, rakes it with a fork, marks it with mason jars, and mixes it with oil to create one-of-a-kind abstract pieces.

Sterzinger also creates relief and texture by starting the painting prior to stretching it onto the support system so when it is stretched the dried paint splinters and cracks to create varying painting surfaces. 

Each of Sterzinger’s pieces are blanketed with thick layers of color and an assortment of applied textures which work in harmony to create visually enticing works of art.

“It’s a playful process, and I just try to react to what the paint does,” Sterzinger says. “My approach is to be fearless and play, and to just have fun with it.”

Though her pieces are wild and abstract, Sterzinger says they still act as her voice, and help articulate life’s sentiments out of her head and onto her canvas. 

“My work comes from a very emotional place,” Sterzinger explains.

When Sterzinger isn’t doing what she calls her “process pieces,” she exercises her versatility as an artist by painting everything from portraits to landscapes, and branches out from acrylic to watercolor paints, oils, and more recently she’s dabbled in multimedia. She’s also working on a collection of colorful critters reminiscent of Monsters, Inc. characters that she’s entitled “Creepy Little Creatures.”

“I start with a random shape, then add legs and arms, and just try to go from there,” Sterzinger says. “They’re just a bunch of weird and crazy characters from my imagination.”

Sterzinger will be opening her Banbury Place studio August 9-11 for anyone interested in seeing her process or merely to have the chance to poke around her workshop.

“I feel like not getting to see the process of how a piece of work is created is missing a step almost,” Sterzinger explains. “Art isn’t just the final product. The open studio allows people to watch a piece be created from start to finish.” 

Sterzinger says spectators will get to witness her unorthodox ways of painting, and can chime in and give feedback on the work as it’s being created.

“I hope this makes my work more accessible, and inspires others as well,” Sterzinger says. “Art is for everyone; all you need to do is play around with it for a bit.”

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