Lynnette Tate, 45, is not going through a midlife crisis; she is finally doing what she wants, pursuing her dream of being an artist.
It began at age 4, when she would draw clowns, rainbows and horses on stacks of paper from a paper company in Tacoma where she grew up. Her grandmother painted seascapes, and she was enthralled by the brush strokes.
Out of high school, Tate enrolled in the Art Institute in Seattle but left to join her husband, a serviceman, in Korea. She had a child and then another and traveled to California, Germany, Missouri and Georgia. After a divorce, she ended up in New Mexico where she worked on an assembly line, painting Navaho-inspired scenes on shields, arrows, pipes and leatherwork.
A mother to five, Tate is a busy woman. Still, she studied art online, perhaps knowing she would one day live her dream of being an artist. Now remarried and settled on Spokane’s South Hill, Tate attends Eastern Washington University full time, studying fine art and graphic design.
Over the years, Tate has mastered realism but her style is changing. “I have in the past been a realist painter, but that does not give me much room for the emotional expression,” she said. “So recently I have bounced into the surreal and wacky side. I like to find the unusual, unique or nature’s small perfections to paint.”
Her range is wide. From portraits or commercial-looking studies to twisted vines full of texture or a view from beneath a pier representing a path to the unknown flanked by wooden support posts, her work tells interesting stories. “After traveling around the world, I am adding little journeys to each painting,” Tate said, “These journeys are from my life which may have been emotionally charged or just a snip of a shape, form or color combination that represented something of my life’s walk. Each painting is a reflection of my individuality.”
Tate tends to work on a few pieces at one time, adding layers of thought in acrylic paint, thickening agents for texture, and the occasional found object. Her move away from total realism has given her more options, and she is having fun with it.
“For a while there, I felt left out; I didn’t really understand the idea of abstract art,” she said. “I fought the modernist way of thinking for a long time, but I get it now and I’m having fun.”
She has shown her work sparingly. Currently, she has a few pieces at Glass Infusion, 14109 E. Sprague Ave., and is participating in this month’s Raw Space group exhibit.