Environmental Art by Amy Casey Explores Dangers to Earth


 Idea Generation

“It changes from piece to piece,” Casey says. “Sometimes I get an inkling of a complete painting idea and jot down a sort of ‘Post-it’ note sketch or reminder, and I’ll then go right to the piece with that. That was my regular way of working for a long time. Lately, it seems I don’t always see the whole thing beforehand.” 

The artist often makes lists of elements she wants to include, sketches of compositional devices she’d like to try, or notes of color combinations she doesn’t want to forget. “Once I found a color combination on a dinner plate!” she says.

Sometimes, Casey simply writes down words she finds interesting and inspiring. “Lately, I often start with loose ideas and try to sort them out on the panel or paper with a pencil. Then I end up changing it with paint as it begins to take shape,” she says. “But it’s always a great feeling when a complete idea comes to you. That’s the best.”

Moving Onto the Paper (or Panel)

Having come up with an idea or a loose sketch, Casey chooses a surface, either a clayboard panel or sheet of paper, which lately has often been YUPO synthetic paper. She always paints in acrylic, but she begins a work in pencil, drawing the image fairly boldly and making adjustments as needed.

“I always work things to some degree in pencil first, especially on paper, which isn’t so forgiving of mistakes,” Casey says. “I often lightly wash in the masses first so I can get an idea of how things will work together, then go on from there.”

After this modest application of wash, Casey proceeds to lay in the local color, paying close attention to nuance and variation. As she proceeds, she’ll often modify color as new elements change the relationships in the picture.

Making Revisions

“With acrylic, I end up with lots of layers and do a good amount of scraping to keep things from getting too lumpy,” she says. “It’s really a mish-mash on how much revision happens. On paper, revisions are somewhat limited to additive ones though I have accidentally made a few holes when working on paper, trying to remove things. I’d say I do more revision on panels because I use clayboard panels and it’s easier to razor off things and redo portions.”

Preferring a smooth surface finish, the artist uses a razor blade not only for revisions but also to carefully scrape or slice off areas that have built up unevenly. She enhances the flatness of the painting finish by using matte or ultra-matte medium in her acrylics, creating a surface that can look close to gouache.

“It can be a little disheartening to build up lots of detailed sections, then have to scrape them off, but it happens,” she says, “especially since I sometimes get carried away with the detail and then step back and think ‘No!’”


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