Laura Burk Artists Statement
For as long as I can remember I’ve had big imagination coupled with the irresistible urge to create. As a child I was always reading and would often explore the world around me through the lens of whatever book I had just put down. For example, after reading “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” By Scott O’Dell, I spent every free moment available outside, building a shelter out of a fallen tree by the Nansemond River, painting my face with black berry juice, and making a grass skirt like the one worn by the books main character. Every creature I saw in the woods had an elaborate back story, a family, a house, and of course could talk, even if I couldn’t hear them. If not outside daydreaming, I was inside drawing or reading. Stories, fairy tales, and illustrations fascinated me and still do. Although I don’t play in the woods as often as I used to (or nearly enough), I haven’t lost the urge to create a visual narrative of what I see around me, or the childlike belief in hidden worlds, and perhaps a little magic.
Nightly bedtime stories included the works of Hans Christian Anderson, The Brothers Grim, and Lewis Carrol. As I got older I was not only fascinated by the stories, but the techniques of the artists who illustrated their works as well as the stories origins. I’ve become immensely inspired by the Golden Age of Illustration, in particular the works of Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, and Kay Neilsen. Not only each artists individual style, how they were able to bring to life the whimsical worlds featured in the stories, while at the same time more than hinting at the darker aspects of these tales. The images to this day bring me both a feeling of delight and a thrill of fear. While I’m assuming that my own work isn’t going to make viewers quake and pull their sheets over their heads, it is my hope that it conjures a little bit of the feelings I experience when journeying through the tales and images that have so inspired me.
Having been formally trained as a licensed art educator at Radford University as well as taking graduate level studio art courses at Averett University has given me experience in a variety of mediums and art forms such as jewelry and metalsmithing, drawing, ceramics, acrylic painting, and block and intaglio printmaking. In 2019, I began to seriously focus on further developing my skills in drawing and the exploration of color. My mediums of choice have been pen and India ink and watercolor. I like the challenge of using the India ink pen to create fine lines that denote value and texture, while at the same time are light and delicate. When applying the watercolors to the finished drawing, I use a dry brush technique to layer brightly colored flowing lines so that they blend somewhat optically instead of physically on the paper.
In 2021 I began experimenting with oil painting, specifically, water soluble oils. With the help of books and YouTube, I’ve been managing to teach myself. I find I am developing a slightly different style with oils compared to my drawing and watercolor painting, which is exciting.
For the past several years my subject matter as focused on exploring the relationships between different plants and animals found in nature, mainly, the commonalities in shape, texture, or color and the subtle story that can be found in their interplay. This is usually viewed through the eyes of one with an overactive imagination. For example, several of my most recent pieces incorporate hibiscus flowers and goldfish. Their bright colors as well as their flowing and undulating organic shapes (to me) pare well together. I imagine that if these flowers grew underwater that they are where the fish would make their homes or rule their kingdoms. My overarching goal is to create harmonious and vivid works that examine the relationships found in nature while at the same time working to inspire my audience to look at the world as they did when they were children and imagine something more.
I currently reside in Hardy, Virginia with my husband Bradley and our fur baby, Lucy Lou. From my home studio I operate my website (lauraburkart.com), make, paint, and dream.