For island newcomer, Lily Bobek, creating art has been a lifelong passion. However, moving to the Pacific Northwest and especially Bainbridge Island has inspired her to focus on the beauty of nature through landscapes filled with abstract images of the land, sea and sky.
Lily’s artistic journey began in childhood when she learned to draw and paint, using her stuffed animals as “art models”. She grew up in New York and attended Binghamton University where she received her BFA, and from there, she embarked upon a life of exploration, travelling and living around the world. During one of her travels, she met her husband, Giovanni Strohmenger, and together they created a fine jewelry business, allowing Lily to channel her artistic talents through jewelry design. It was through this business that Lily and Giovanni first encountered the Pacific Northwest while showing their pieces at the Bellevue Museum of Art.
Fast forward 20 years, Lily and Giovanni were able to retire to the sleepy little Northern California town of Sebastopol, where Lily was able to focus full time on her art. As a contemporary abstract painter, nature has always been a source of inspiration for Lily and her work reflects bold and vibrant colors, which she applies in multiple layers, creating texture and dimension within the painting. “With each layer, the painting becomes an explorative adventure revealing an interplay of vivid patterns and shapes,” she notes on her website.
Throughout her life, Lily explored a variety of mediums including watercolors on paper and monotypes. She thoroughly enjoys the process of working with monotypes, using the layers to bring certain aspects further to the surface, which she feels brings life to the paintings.
In 2021 Lily and Giovanni decided to leave California for much greener pastures and made the move to Bainbridge Island. Lily told me that she left the location of their new PNW home entirely up to Giovanni, and the moment she set foot on the island, she was instantly in love with it. They found their ideal home where she set up her studio in a second-floor room, with expansive views of the surrounding forest.
Over the course of the last year, Lily’s work has taken on a new dynamic inspired by Bainbridge and the PNW. Her abstracts draw out the various colors of land and sea in peaceful worlds of reflection. “I love creating mysterious abstract worlds and landscapes,” she said. “I love discovering scenes that I didn’t intend. It’s the unknown element that brings life for me when I’m creating an abstract painting. I like to offer freedom of imagination to the viewer to interpret. I love to hear what each viewer sees and feels.”
Lily often experiments in her art, trying new things with each painting, and following her intuition, which allows the work to “surprise” her as it develops. “What I love about abstract landscapes is there appears to be a definable scene, sometimes especially from a distance,” she said, “but upon inspection and consideration of the painting you start to see the abstract undefinable quality of the colors, shapes or textures. The eye can possibly move back and forth between a kind of identifiable world and the unknown.” This was abundantly apparent to me during our interview as my eye constantly drifted back to a painting on her studio wall, which brought forth a memory from a recent visit to Ireland, evoking the scenery along the coast of the Irish Sea.
Lily finds the unusual elements that emerge in abstract art intriguing and when she paints or views abstract art, she describes the experience as “beyond words and that is what I find to be its beauty.” She uses layer upon layer to reach compositional harmony between color, form, and negative space.
Lily is often asked if she has something in mind when she creates her paintings. “The answer is yes and no,” she explained. “Sometimes I see something, like a sunset which will overwhelm me with its beauty. I may try to capture the particular colors or cloud formations. So, yes, I wanted to recreate something or some place that inspired me. But, at the same time, I often paint following my spontaneous inspiration of the moment, be it choosing a color palette or using a certain technique or style to lead me. I build the painting in layers, letting myself be guided.”
Lily has already shown her work here on Bainbridge and is looking forward to future exhibitions.
“I love my art to touch people on many levels and I think this happens with abstract art. It evokes feelings and thoughts. I hope viewers sense joy and inspiration in my art and take something from it for themselves. Sharing this joy is a big part of why I create art.” – Lily Bobek
Lily’s acrylic on canvas paintings can be found on her website, at https://www.lilybobek.com
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