Doenecke usually chooses the selected artists for the gallery, but for June, she chose herself.
Carol Doenecke isn’t one to boast about her own accomplishments, so it felt odd for the Longboat Key artist and All Angels by the Sea Episcopal Church gallery coordinator to choose herself as the church's featured artist. But she figured in the slow months of May and June, not many people would mind.
“It seems self-serving, but I thought, ‘Why not me?’” Doenecke said. “Nobody had a complaint.”
So through June, Doenecke’s art covers the walls of the All Angels gallery. As an artist who primarily works in pastels with figures and plenty of color, she has bright faces and striking backgrounds popping off the walls. She’s been a working artist for years and has shown in many other shows, so she selected a plethora of her favorite pieces.
“I wanted to put together different periods from my life and artistry, but they all had to be colorful,” Doenecke said. “They’re things I particularly like or things that have won prizes.”
Doenecke has been an artist since she was a child — one of those kids who started drawing and never really stopped. She went to art school and majored in fashion design, but disliked that it didn’t seem like a very serious industry. Instead, she set art aside for years, worked in the retail industry and got married. Doenecke and her husband Justus have been in the area since about 1980, when Doenecke picked up art again at the Manatee Art Center. There, she rediscovered an endless supply of muses in the models who sat for classes.
“I was a little rusty, but I would go every week and draw,” Doenecke said. “Then I started organizing models and did more single figures. I have to have a human form in there and color is definitely a requisite. Color and the human form, I’ve been drawn to that from the beginning.”
The result is an assembly of faces staring out from the walls of the gallery. There’s a woman sitting solitary on a patio as a storm draws near, a flamenco dancer inspired by her travels with her husband and a jazz singer with music notes flying through the air behind her. However, Doenecke’s favorite is “I’ve Got the Bird,” a piece that combines three models in a room. It was inspired by old films like “The Maltese Falcon” and whoever purchases it will also take home a falcon statuette. It was one of her only pieces that she had a title for before she began working on it. With help from models at the Longboat Key Arts Center, her vision came to life.
“This model (on the right) was always fun to draw and paint, but she didn’t like it when I did her profile because she said I did her nose too accurately,” Doenecke said.
Doenecke likes art because of the challenges that come with it. She works in pastels because she doesn’t find paint to be challenging enough — you can easily paint over mistakes, but you can only erase pastel marks so many times before you ruin the paper — and she tries to keep doing different things. Some models can be challenging, but she’s learned the importance of keeping a fresh perspective on things and changing up the angle.
“There was a model I was so sick of seeing, but I drew him from the back one day and won an honorable mention in a show,” Doenecke said. “You can always create something with anybody.”
One piece in her All Angels gallery was born out of a bit of an artistic slump. “A Night at the Opera” was inspired by an outing with a friend. The model came easily from a class, but when she thought about creating a broader piece, her mind wandered to the ridiculous plots from the operas she’s seen. Fantastical elements play out behind the model, which devote more attention to the background than Doenecke usually goes for.
“I sometimes get tired of doing things a certain way,” Doenecke said. “Maybe some artists grind it out and keep doing the same thing but I can’t. I have to have fun with these.”
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