February Featured Member – Harmony Vanlue Tanguay
This month’s featured member is the lovely and talented Harmony Vanlue Tanguay. Her portraits and still life paintings are simply stunning!
DB: Give us a little background on yourself.
HVT: My name is Harmony VanLue Tanguay, and I am a relative newcomer to Rhode Island. I moved here last year with my boyfriend after spending a year in France painting, modeling, and generally enjoying the French countryside.
DB: When did you first become interested in your art form?
HVT: I was living in NYC and working as an artist’s model to earn money while I tried to break into the world of acting. The more I modeled, the more interested I became in pursuing the visual arts. In 2004 I was given the opportunity to go to France to model for an art class there, and I found the teachings really inspiring, and I thought, “I could do this”. So two years later, I took the class that I had previously modeled for, and the rest is history!
DB: What inspires you?
HVT: This is always the toughest question for me to answer, because my answer is literally everything. As long as my eyes are open, I’m being inspired by some sort of visual stimulus. The landscapes on my drive to work, my kitchen shelves, my boyfriend sleeping, an old tooth, a teapot, the reflections in my bathroom faucet, doorways, animals, sunsets….I mean I could go on forever. There is beauty in everything really and it’s pretty easy to find if you’re looking for it.
DB: Does living in Rhode Island influence your work in any way?
HVT: Definitely! As soon as it’s warm enough outside, I go landscape painting pretty much every evening. The landscapes here are really beautiful. I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of the ocean. There’s nothing better than painting the sunset with your feet in the sand!
DB: What techniques do you use the most in your work?
HVT: My style of painting stems from the classical tradition. I work in oils, and my technique is somewhat labor intensive. I usually start by doing a preliminary line drawing, then transferring that drawing onto a wood panel or canvas. Then I do what is called an “underpainting”, which is a tranparent wash of paint using only solvent and paint. This ends up looking like a watercolor version of what the final painting will look like. Once that is finished, I then repaint the entire painting with a second pass of oil paint and medium, which is opaque and creamy in appearance. The result is a really colorful, vibrant painting. For more detailed pieces like my self-portraits, this process usually takes about 20-30 hours of work from start to finish.
HVT: The work itself IS the challenge for me. I strive to continually improve, to make each painting better than the last. I like to purposely present myself with different sets of challenges with each choice of subject matter to force myself to confront things outside of my comfort zone. If I’m scared of painting reflective surfaces, I make myself paint a spoon.
DB: How did you find Etsy?
HVT: A friend of mine mentioned it to me and I checked it out and was instantly addicted!
DB:Apart from your Etsy work, what do you do?
HVT: By day I work as a technical recruiter for an IT staffing firm. Between that and painting, my days are pretty full! When I get a free moment I like to pet my cat, hug my boyfriend, spend time outside enjoying nature, reading, listening to music, you know, the simple things…
HVT: I’d have to say Mackerel Cove in Jamestown. It’s the little beach down the street from us. It’s certainly not the biggest or nicest beach our little state has to offer, but it’s really lovely and peaceful. It’s surrounded with lovely views of the surrounding farms, the Jamestown Bridge, and you can see Newport across the water. It’s great to walk down there at night in the spring and jump in the water when no one else is there.