First Friday Santa Cruz



Laura Staats

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The beauty and complexity of the world around us never ceases to amaze me. As an artist, I have trained myself to be a keen observer and look deeply at my surroundings. I am primarily an oil painter, but I do enjoy all forms of painting, and other mediums as well. I am fascinated by the use of modern technological tools and the ways they can be used to assist in a more traditional art-making process. In addition to developing my own photography skills to use in my work, Photoshop has become a regular part of my painting process. Instead of a traditional sketchbook, I typically use Photoshop as a virtual sketchbook for my paintings. Not only is it an excellent tool for collage, but its ability to add varying levels of transparency and other effects is helpful for visualizing unique ways to combine imagery. In addition to painting and photography, I also enjoy drawing and ceramics. As long as I can remember, I have always had some form of art as an outlet for expressing myself. For me, being an artist is a calling, a fulfilling emotional outlet that I can not be without.

Although I enjoy a wide variety of genres, I do tend to gravitate towards certain subjects in my art. People fascinate me. A person’s subtle facial expression or gesture can hold profound meaning, which has made the figure one of my favorite subjects. I am easily mesmerized and fascinated by the natural world, making landscapes another common subject in my art. For the last few years I have been exploring ways to merge the figure into natural environments, adding elements of surrealism and abstraction in order to create my own original interpretation of my subjects. I enjoy researching different subjects and art processes and am constantly looking for new ways to push the boundaries of my art, letting it evolve and grow in new directions.

Themes that are important to me figure prominently in my work. Environmental concerns are more critical than ever. The effects of global warming are already noticeable through extreme weather conditions both locally and around the world. Nature plays a vital role in all of our lives. Whether I’m simply highlighting its beauty, or making a statement about crimes against our planet, I hope to call attention to the importance of how our actions can impact the environment, and in turn threaten our own survival.

The complexity of relationships is another common theme in my work. Emotional connections of all types interest me, but I am particularly influenced by my experiences in the LGBT+ community. I am intrigued by diversity, unity, power dynamics, and gender roles, and hope to encourage empathy and greater understanding for all through my work.

Through my art, I hope to encourage viewers to look more critically at the world around them. Whether the goal is to simply draw attention to the beauty that surrounds us, to inspire empathy, or to call for social or environmental change, I hope to create work that will resonate with and inspire others in a meaningful way.

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