Portrait of the Artist

Adele Yonchak

Nature Panes

By Noelani Kirschner | July 15, 2019
<em>hickory lane</em>, 2019, acrylic, oil and charcoal on canvas, 48 x 48 inches.
hickory lane, 2019, acrylic, oil and charcoal on canvas, 48 x 48 inches.

Adele Yonchak began landscape painting in college. More than 15 years later, she still returns again and again in her work to the land around her home in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I paint abstracted landscapes so people see what makes them feel comfortable and nostalgic,” Yonchak says. “My work is ambiguous but familiar. People say, ‘I see my special place in this piece.’”

Yonchak mixes her own pigments, first layering acrylic paint in broad bands of neutral pastels before going back over the scene with oil paint for added texture. “I use the oil paint almost like a crayon on top of the acrylic,” she says. “I call these works ‘oil sketches’ as a result.” Finally, she finishes with squiggles of charcoal to add definition, creating a chimera of simultaneous one- and three-dimensionality. The end result resembles the work of Gabriele Münter or Nicolas de Staël, two abstract artists whom she cites as influences.

The titles of her paintings do not correlate with the specific locations depicted. Rather, the works evoke the feeling of a memory or the gestalt of the land. Looking at the finished product, Yonchak ascribes a title that holds meaning for her family. “Hickory Lane was the street name of my grandfather’s house in the mountains; Mulberry Road was where I was brought home from the hospital as a baby,” she says. “They’re special to me.”

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