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Landis Creates Large-scale Art, Drop by Drop, in New Studio

by Brad Carlson, photography by Jim Peterson

Artist Renee Landis has something in common with various popular music performers whose work frequently inspires her: She moved from a homely garage to a concert venue.

Visitors to Revolution Concert House & Event Center in Garden City and the Big Easy-turned-Knitting Factory venue in downtown Boise have seen her creations on tabletops and wall-mounted acoustic boards. Now they may see Landis herself at Revolution, where she has been building and customizing a studio.

The spacious studio fits the artist’s work, which often depicts iconic, larger-than-life images on a canvas as big as a bookcase. But even the smaller surface of a cocktail table’s top demands a big work area as she applies paint from far away. She has worked from inside her Eagle home or in its garage.

“I was told it’s frowned upon to splatter in the kitchen, or fling paint,” Landis said.

Her dining room table served as workspace for two paintings she had recently completed.

One, a large acrylic featuring a guitar, is linear and geometric. Its colors, like those within shapes above and below the instrument, aim to pop out and catch the eye.

The other, a bigger geometric abstract measuring about four by five feet, features shapes and colors; it aims to tease the eye so “in the images, everybody will see something different,” Landis said. She first envisioned a landscape before leaning it against a hallway wall for about six weeks for further contemplation.

“I just studied it as I walked by,” she said. “Then one day I had an inkling of what I wanted to do, and it just came together.” She didn’t like the original’s colors, whereas the finished painting has brighter, more intense colors, as well as greater depth.

Landis started painting nearly four years ago, though she always loved art and drawing.

Early paintings included a lot of Jackson Pollock-inspired drip and splatter art, modes she continues to enjoy. Recently she has incorporated more structure and precision. “Now I am kind of into geometric shapes, and depth, and color,” she said.

She is married to Creston Thornton, who owns Revolution as well as promotions company CT Touring. Thornton previously owned Big Easy Concert House, where Landis created abstract tabletop mosaics inspired by rock bands and albums.

Although each painting is done out of inspiration and a love of art rather than as a decorative piece for Revolution, displaying it there means many people see it. “I’m good with it now,” Landis said of the exposure. “It was tough in the beginning.”

Landis, 43, grew up in San Carlos, Calif., and studied psychology at Boise State University. She has painted images from individuals and landscapes to objects and abstracts. Her first music-themed painting was a drip guitar with BSU theme. In middle to late January, she prepared to start creating another drip-art guitar on a grand scale, commissioned by an individual.

This spring, she plans to display her art in a public exhibit and on a website she’s developing.

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