Guest – Minimalist Artist Wanda Dean

Minimalist Artist Wanda Dean

I have enjoyed viewing the Vincent van Gogh paintings posted on FaceBook over the last few months. Several of them remind me of the work of Wanda Dean. Wanda is a fantastic artist and friend I met in Western New York State. She also happens to be my wife’s aunt.

I’m fortunate to have one of her pieces hanging on my wall. I’ve asked her to tell us a bit about her work. I was surprised to find that she faces some of the same issues artists of the written word face. One surprised me. Like our characters, she must be on the watch to see where her brushes take her.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist? As a small child, I was always drawing and being creative, which continued until I started studying Art seriously around 1980. I was fortunate to have studied under Many wonderful mentors through the years, such as Cole Young at Bonaventure University, Fred Lipp, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, Catherine Nelson, Alfred University Art Professor, and Thomas Buechner, a master artist from Corning, NY. These mentors helped me get where I wanted to go in my work. I took a critiquing class for many years at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester with Fred Lipp. Because of this class, I decided I wanted to be a minimalist painter and to stop painting when I’ve’ said’ everything I wanted to say about the painting.

What mediums do you work in? My paintings are all done with alkyds and oils. I also work in charcoal, watercolor, and acrylics for other projects.

Please tell us a few words about the painting posted here. Along my daily walk, one day, I noticed the dark tree trunks against the bright oranges and golds of the foliage. The strong lights and darks just struck me, and I immediately went to my studio and started the painting. In all of my work, I start with an idea, but I carefully watch what my paint is doing on the canvas, and it dictates my next move. In other words, the painting’ tells ‘me where it wants to go, and I follow that lead. As I am working on a painting, I constantly watch to see what is working or not working.

Where do you work? I work in my studio for the most part but start some of my work on site.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to work by? I work with music for the most part, but there are times I like it silent. I listen to instrumental music only: Boch, George Winston, Una Mattina, Liquid Mind, and others.

Do you name your work? If so, what is your process for naming? Naming my work is not easy. I study the piece, and usually, a title comes to mind.

If you could have painted any work (one that someone else has already painted,) which one would it be? Why? Mark Rothko is a Minimalist painter, and I would love to paint any one of his works, but No. 10 is one of my favorites. His luminous paintings have such a sense of space and light. His minimal paintings just let you go on you on the journey as few elements are distracting. I strive to continue to be more minimalistic because of Mark Rothko. I take out things that detract me from getting the special feeling that I want.

Everyone, at some point, wishes for a do-over. What’s yours? I wish I would have been a student in a fine arts program at a University, and gotten an MFA

What’s your biggest pet peeve? Being interrupted when I am working in my studio.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? Food, Art supplies, and books

What’s on the horizon for you? Just being able to keep learning and painting.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your paintings? I  am fortunate to have a husband that supports my work and respects my need to have the time to paint. I love discussing art with my artists’ friends or those who appreciate art. While I do enjoy being social, I need to have lots of time to be alone. I need privacy.

Where can we see your work: Wannie311 on Instagram


  1. Thonie Hevron

    Mike said it well. I noted similarities to my writing process. Great interview!

  2. Michael A. Black

    I found it interesting how many things she said resonated with me as a prose artist. I never realized how similar painting and writing are, from getting an idea and then allowing it to develop on the canvas or the page as you work to fulfill your particular vision. This was a fascinating interview.

  3. Wanda Dean

    Thank You. I am honored that you ask me to be a guess artist!

    I enjoyed thinking and answering the questions about my work.

    It is always enjoyable to discuss art , whether it be painting, writing, music, sculpting etc.
    with artists and those whom appreciate it.

    My favorite quote is:

    “Art is that which, otherwise would be left unsaid”. I think about this often and remember one of my mentors who made me promise I would remember it. His name was Cole Young, and sadly he died at a young age.


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