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Abstract portraiture painter Abigail Tessier

Abigail Tessier is a 2020 graduate with a Bachelor’s in Art Studio. After graduation, she moved to Ithaca, NY to seek an artist community and career, but with the current state of our world, her plans have changed slightly. So instead, she's been an essential worker while she continues to sell her art online. She mostly paint portraiture in a style that she describes as fluid, colorful, and abstracted. We have conducted a short interview with her.

Swirl Girl (2019) by Abigail Tessier

Why did you choose to work on abstract portraiture painting? 

I guess that after trying semi-realism for a few years, I got bored of it. In my sophomore year of college, I created a painting inspired by Happy D; we were assigned to pick an artist and imitate their style. I think the objective was to learn how they accomplished the appearance of their painting, but instead I ran with the inspiration and experimented. My style has evolved more since then, but that was a defining moment. 

Abigail Tessier
Car Trip (2018)

Which is your favorite media?

I enjoy oil painting more than anything, just because I get so lost in it. I think that’s why my style keeps changing. I treat painting as a therapeutic and spiritual practice, so I give myself a lot of room to play around before setting a goal for the painting. The thing about oil paint is that you can always paint over it if you want to change something. It’s not as easy with acrylic especially if you use it like a watercolor like I used to. Plus, oils allow for thick impasto, which is my favorite.

Abigail Tessier
Pastel Bliss (2018)

When do you consider is your most successful time, with the most accomplishments so far?

I think my best years have been 2016 and 2019. 2016 was the year I won my high school’s first national award for my painting Bird Brain. I was focused on acrylic wash paintings, which is just using acrylics and water like watercolor. I always sketched out my paintings first and this allowed me to fill in areas of shadow and color without having to make corrections as I built the paint. So my work was pretty realistic and definitely caught my peers’ eyes. 2019 was more of an epiphany year for me. I decided, I really need to start painting bigger. 2019 birthed my paintings Swirl Girl and Manic Swamp Monster which are fan favorites and earned me my place in the Frederic Remington student juried art show which started in February this year. 2020 is looking like a weird year for artist accomplishments, but I have high hopes for 2021!

Abigail Tessier
Swirl Girl (2019)

What is your art style presently and what do you hope to achieve in the near future? 

My style wavers between colorful surrealism and something that I can only call “squiggly” painting. When I started painting in these wiggling, colorful marks, my college friends would always make remarks about me making “squiggles.” If I had my own cubism, it would be called squigglism. (I secretly hope someday I’m known for it). I really like to paint dreamy, semi-realistic portraits as well, but I am leaning into this unique style because I haven’t really seen it anywhere else before. 

Who influences your art? 

Some of my main influences have been Tanya Shatseva, Charmaine Olivia, Noa Knafo, James B Hunt, Ludovic Nkoth, and many others. I promote my artwork primarily through Instagram, which is also where I discovered all of these artists. 

How do you cope in the 'failing' moments?

I try to keep my creative energy flowing instead of allowing it to stop. Just because a piece is going wrong, doesn’t mean the artist should be stumped. If I seriously need a break from a painting, I’ll do something else: sketch, sculpt, make jewelry, even take photographs or videos. I also remind myself that my best works have taken lots and lots of time, including time apart from the piece. Say, you go to the studio 4 days in a row and take 3 days off. When you come back after a few days off, you have a fresh perspective of your work that you haven’t stared at in a few days. Taking time off from my work can feel like failing, but it actually contributes to my success. 

Abigail Tessier
at Frederic Remington Museum, Reminiscing on a Tie Dye Sky (2020)

What would be one advice you will give to a young/new aspiring artist?

I actually had the chance to do this at my new job this week. I’m training at Dunkin, and they hire a lot of high schoolers in the small towns around Ithaca. This girl, we’ll call her G, was talking to me a little while we watched our training videos, and she said she’s an artist. She said she was contemplating going to school for art but that she wasn’t sure if it’s a good idea. Having gone to SUNY for art studio, I had to give my raw opinion. I recommended that she doesn’t go to college for art, or that if she does, she should at least double major in business, psychology or something else. My reasoning for business is that artists are inherently entrepreneurs; we have to sell our art ourselves. She liked the idea of psychology because she could do art therapy. I’ve considered that too! I think young artists should be strategic. If they’re not going to college, they need to seriously invest in their work and put in the time and effort. With enough motivation, a portfolio or body of work can be developed in a short period, and then time can be spent seeking clients either online or through galleries. I say that like I know everything... but it’s just what’s working for me! And I have a lot left to learn. 

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Abstract portraiture painter Abigail Tessier Reviewed by JaamZIN on 9:08:00 AM Rating: 5
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