Quarantine has given Monroe artist Amanda Adams time to really focus on her work — and get her children involved, too.
Adams, 42, creates vivid oil paintings, both surreal and representational, at her home studio.
Lately, she has been working on a series called “Places and Things,” a collection of mostly oil-on-wood paintings that feature pools and yoga mats. One painting, “Poolside Yoga,” shows yoga mats lined up next to a swimming pool where dozens of yellow ducks swim.
“I was a yoga teacher a long time ago,” she said. “In such an odd time, I felt it was fitting to have something that’s more calming, so yoga mats are a symbol of that for me. I also live in a lush place with a lot of grass, so there’s a lot of greenery and bright colors.”
She is painting the larger pieces in the collection on canvas, which Adams first covers in pink to help the colors pop.
“When I look at paintings that I love, they’re full of life and vibrant. It doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative subject,” she said. “They make me feel alive when I look at that them. That’s what I want to do with my paintings. So, now I’m concentrating more on color and placement.”
At first, her mission with “Places and Things” was to bring a sense of calm and focus to troubling times. But the motive behind the series has evolved with every painting. “Now it’s about life and living, being alive,” she said. “It’s about memory, feelings and noticing what’s going on around me.”
Adams had artistic ambitions from childhood. But it wasn’t until she turned 40 and became a mother that she decided to take the plunge and make a career of it.
During the quarantine, she’s passing down her artistic side to her kids, ages 5 and 3.
“I set them up with a station and they share their own easel to do their own painting,” Adams said. “Sometimes they’ll put a few strokes on one of mine, which I love.”
Her husband, Jacob Adams, says the children have really taken to art class.
“Our kids love it,” he said. “I think developing a creative mindset early on is helpful in all phases of your life, so I’m glad they are taking an interest in it. And Amanda is there to encourage and teach them as they grow.”
Adams is a self-taught artist. Her last formal training was at high school in California, where she discovered she excelled at painting.
“I had a great art teacher, Jim Barry, who told me I was doing everything wrong,” she said. “I was insulted, until I learned he was right. I respected him so much. That was the one person who made me really decide I wanted to be and improve as an artist.”
Wendy Poischbeg, economic development director for Snohomish city government, said she discovered Adams’ work on Instagram. She was so impressed, she bought one of Adams’ pieces, “Two Towers Two,” at the Schack’s H’Arts gala and auction in Everett.
“I’m a huge fan of abstracts, so when Amanda’s oil paintings first scrolled across my feed, I immediately followed her,” Poischbeg said. “They’re bold and vivid, with strong lines and lots of depth. I guess I’m drawn to them because they fit my personality. They’re have a lot to say and are definitely not timid.”
The response to Adams’ work has been positive, although it’s husband Jacob she goes to for constructive feedback.
“It’s perfect — he doesn’t come from any kind of art background,” she said. “He likes it, but he doesn’t know much about the technical side of it. So he’s the one I ask to look at my work. He’s very objective about it, telling me if he thinks something is too flat or it needs something else. I love it.”
Her husband, a commercial plumber in Monroe, seems to enjoy it, too.
“Being married to an artist is a very cool experience,” Jacob Adams said. “It’s great to have somebody in your life who is always bringing beautiful things into the house and making the place we live in brighter and more colorful. It also brings out my creativity.”
The family plans to build his-and-hers offices at their home. On the top floor will be Amanda’s studio, on the bottom floor will be her husband’s workshop.
“I can’t wait,” Amanda Adams said. “I’ll hopefully have studio parties and classes, or at least have a group of peers get together for a paint night.”