Sitting quietly in the spiritual atmosphere of the Heidelberg Museum, I did not realize that my life’s work had begun. It was 1959 and I was 16 years old. That year I lived with a German family, participating in the daily disciplines of their cooking and cleaning rituals.
The museum was my sanctuary.
My training in the European classical tradition began here with classes at the Museum in the craft of art restoration, and the pre-renaissance painting techniques practiced by early Dutch and German painters. Drawing and painting classes were spent copying the old masters, learning brush techniques and learning how to formulate colors. I studied the history of art at the University of Heidelberg.
My mother passed away that year. My father followed soon after. I was now on my own and returned to Miami.
I continued my art studies privately with drawing master Roberto Martinez, and at a local college while working in the kitchen of Agostinos, a family-owned Italian restaurant on Miami Beach. We made everything from scratch: pasta, breads, desserts, everything! I slept on a cot in the back of the restaurant.
In 1965 I went to Perugia, Italy to study art techniques in a master’s trade school for artists. There I learned the traditional methods for oil painting and egg tempera, for painting frescoe, and for grinding my own pigments. I also studied Etruscan pottery making and jewelry casting methods.
While there I lived in an Etruscan farmhouse with no heat in winter but for a fireplace (big enough that one could sit inside), and one bare light bulb, no hot water, and no bathroom. I walked 45 minutes to school each day.
After a year studying in Perugia I spent a summer in Venice learning the art of glass blowing. I lived in a youth hostel.
Before returning to Miami I went on a gastronomic tour of Southern Europe which ended in Algeciras, Spain. I studied a variety of media there including traditional papermaking methods with Aurelia Munoz, a well-known papermaker in Spain.
Returning to Miami after a year abroad, I began my studies at the University of Miami taking art history and graduate studio classes in art and continued my private study with Roberto Martinez, a former student of Marino Marini. With Roberto, I studied the human form in life drawing classes taught in the traditional European manner. That is, after four years of full time study of the figure and figure drawing anatomy, I was ready, finally, to begin painting. This training gave me my lifelong interest in painting the human form.
During this period I was enrolled in two schools full time while also working three jobs. I attended the University of Miami, and The New School of Fine Art with Roberto Martinez and Barbara Neijna. I rented a couch from a family to sleep on. I would come home and leave the car running while I showered and changed clothes for my next job. My night job was waitressing at the Gaslight Coffee House in Coconut Grove where I was immersed in a sea of creative people and attended all night jam sessions with musicians such as David Crosby, Simon and Garfunkel, the Mommas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, Odetta and Fred Neil, who I would take sailing as he worked on a new song while we sailed about in Biscayne Bay. Talented people like Keil Martin from the TV series Hill Street Blues and comedians such as Flip Wilson were also in the Grove. At this time, the late 1960’s, Coconut Grove was a creative mix. This part of my life was invaluable as a creative learning experience, surrounded by artists bringing their ideas to life in the forms of music, acting and comedy.
In 1969 I graduated from the University of Miami and moved to San Francisco continuing my art studies and teaching drawing at Golden Gate University. I lived in the Haight Ashbury district, just around the corner from the Jefferson Airplane. I sat in on many of their afternoon jam sessions and saw many of the musicans perform that were popular during that decade, including the Rolling Stones at the legendary but ill-fated Altamont Concert. The rhythmic sensuous flow of my line was born of the music from the 1960”s.
In 1970 I left San Francisco and drove my VW Bus down through Mexico and into the jungles of Central America, where I worked on an archaeological dig in British Honduras under the auspices of the Museum of Mexico. I was interested in furthering my education in Pre-Columbian and Meso-American art, and studied their art and pottery techniques as I traveled south. At the dig I lived as the Indians did, in a stilt hut high off the ground with a thatched roof, no walls and only a wooden floor to sleep on. I was soon alone at the site, the rest of the group having left for several weeks to hunt rabid dogs which were threatening whole villages. By day I became a hunter-gatherer and worked on the dig. By night bats would come into the hut to keep me company and hang upside down from the rafters. During this extended stay in the jungle a near fatal illness forced me back to the relative civilization of Coconut Grove.
I spent a year recovering my health while developing my art style. I carried with me to the Grove the quiet of the jungle. Void of outside stimulus a person could become one with nature there, achieving an inner peace. The wonderfully deep jungle colors and the patterns of negative and positive spaces found there exerted a lasting influence on my artwork.
Working during the day and painting late into the night and on weekends, I pursued a dual life as artist and liaison between Caribbean island governments and the United States tourist industry. Having left the jungles of Central America behind, I now stayed in the best hotels as a guest of the island governments. In Haiti I had a limousine driver and was treated to a gastronomic tour of the island’s finest restaurants.
While in Haiti I had two memorable experiences. I was permitted to attend a Voodoo ceremony high in the mountains. The motley gathering drank a mixture of hallucinogenic herbs, and intoxicated danced themselves into a frenzy. I went up to the JuJu man to have my fortune told. These spirit doctors eat fire and have burned the flesh from their noses and their mouths and left them lipless. My second experience was much different. I attended a formal dinner and gala at the palace of Jean Claude Duvalier, and met him and his family.
The sun drenched colors of the Caribbean islands became part of my art and further expanded and deepened my palette.
I began exhibiting my art, and in 1972 I had my first one-person show.
I continued to study a variety of media, the most important being the fiber arts which led to my being selected by Du Pont Corporation to put my art on a line of ready-to-wear “artwear”. In 1974 I was among the first art-to-wear artists. The garments I designed were engineered prints hand-screened in New York City. That is, the front and back sides align to match and the art flows around the body creating a three dimensional effect like sculpture, or art-in-the-round. I designed the garments from Du Pont’s fabrics, silk screened my art work on each garment, created the color formulations for the fabrics and the silk screen process, and then set up the engineered prints.
The complete line was purchased by Federated Department stores, and I was off on a trunk tour. I would find myself on a local segment of Good Morning America one day, and in a department store hosting a fashion show the next. My oil paintings were exhibited in local galleries on the trunk tour.
I commuted from Miami to New York City each week for a year. I lived at the St. Moritz Hotel and I had a company car and driver at my disposal night and day. I returned to Miami each weekend.
During this time I bought a house in Coconut Grove and became a partner in the Grove’s first sidewalk restaurant. My three partners turned out to be an armed robber and two drug dealers. I left the restaurant business. I concentrated on my art and began exhibiting in London, Paris and the United States.
I next developed a hand-painted line of clothing and tableware that sold in artwear boutiques and museum gift shops throughout the United States. The artwear appeared in fashion shows and boutiques, and in galleries and museums such as the Dallas Museum of Art, The Miami Museum of Art and the International Center of Contemporary Art in Paris.
My artwear included bathing suits. I used the same engineered print process, and each suit was hand- screened. I was one of the first designers to raise the curve of the leg on the bathing suit to conform to the form of the figure, instead of cutting across the leg as it did before. I also used colors and designs that made the bust seem larger and the waist seem smaller. The swimwear was sold in the United States and Europe in stores such as I. Magnin , and in specialty boutiques at exclusive vacation resorts. They also appeared on the runways in Paris. My paintings were now being exhibited in the United States, France and Switzerland.
I had developed quite a mix of art. I opened a gallery on Lincoln Road in South Beach where I displayed my various art media. The gallery became an art environment in which one was enveloped in paintings, vessels, art wear, jewelry, hand-made paper, etc. My art was also being exhibited in museums in the United States and Europe.
By 1985 the artwear designs expanded to include hand-painted towels and shower curtains. This line sold in the United States and Europe, and as far as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. King Fayedh bought $80,000.00 worth from the bath line for his palace and entourage. I had to create new patterns for every wife, because each had to have her own individual design. At this time I was working 16 hours a day seven days a week.
My art evolved into performance art. These performance events included all of the many media I had become involved in. “Le Collage” (see DVD) was first performed at the International Center of Contemporary Art in Paris, and then brought to the United States to be performed at the Miami Museum of Art. It was next performed in a five star restaurant for my art collectors. The food became part of the art performance (see DVD).
A most human art performance came about when I opened a Bed & Breakfast in 1996 in my historic home. The guests lived the art. That is, every room was a gallery. Guests looked at art, ate from art, and slept in art. I cooked daily a gourmet breakfast artfully prepared and served. It was always theater at the B&B, a live performance. Improvisation was always the order of the day. The Bed & Breakfast was rated 41/2 stars, one of the top 25 in the South and among the 10 best in Florida.
I am now living in a studio in Coconut Grove and have completed a creative cycle with my art, the oil paintings the catalyst from which evolved the many different applications of those paintings into other artistic media.
Education and Training
B.A. University of Miami, Art History. Graduate classes in studio painting, drawing, ceramics, and sculpture.
Four years private study in drawing and painting with Roberto Martinez (studied with Marino Marini). One year of art restoration and painting in Heidleberg, Germany. One year painting (fresco, tempera, Renaissance underpainting and color formulations, with special reference to Perugino) and Etruscan methods of vessel making and lost wax jewelry casting at Escoula de Estraneira, Perugia, Italy. Glass making in Venice, Italy. One year ceramic and fibre study in Mexico and British Honduras. Two years private study in the chemistry of color formulation. Consulted two years full-time with DuPont Company in New York City, creating my own line of ready to wear Artwear and formulating and overseeing color charts used for DuPont’s complete line of fabric charts. One year “Masters Papermaking Workshops” with Aurelia Munoz, Spain, Exxon grant.
2001 CENTRE CULTUREL CHRISTIANE PEUGEOT, Paris, France. 1991 MUSEE D’ART MODERNE DE LA COMMANDERIE D’UNET, Tonneins, Bordeaux, France. 1989 “Art in Motion” a multi-media art event, hosted by Town & Country Magazine, MIAMI ART MUSEUM previously known as CENTER FOR THE FINE ARTS, Miami, Florida. 1987 GALLERY 841, Miami, Florida. 1986 MANDRAGORE INTERNATIONALE GALERIE D’ART, Paris, France. 1986 CENTER INTERNATIONALE D’ART CONTEMPORAIN, Paris, France. 1986 “Le Collage” and “Collage of 64”, performing arts project involving art, drama, music, film, fashion, and cuisine. 1985 METROPOLIS GALERIE INTERNATIONALE D’ART, Geneva, Switzerland. 1983 “The Dinner Party”, a performing arts project involving oil paintings, hand-painted plates, stemware, artwear, and jewelry, RAIMONDO’S, Miami, Florida. 1981 UNION STREET GALLERY, San Francisco, California. 1981 WESTERN ASSOCIATION OF ART MUSEUMS ROGUE GALLERY OF ART, Medford, Oregon. 1977 VIRGINIA MILLER GALLERIES, Miami, Florida. 1976 YELLOW-PLUSH GALLERY, London, England. 1974-1975 “Prints & Fibres” with lectures and television appearances, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Honolulu, and Mexico. 1972 GROVE GROUP GALLERY, Miami, Florida. 1972 GALLERY 5, Miami, Florida.
2004 AMSTERDAM WHITNEY, New York City, New York. 2003 LIMNER GALLERY, New York City, New York. 1992 MUSEE D’ART MODERNE DE LA COMMANDERIE D’UNET, Tonneins, Bordeaux, France. 1991 “Faber Birren Color Award Show” Juror Laura Rosenstock, Curator, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, Stamford Art Association, Connecticut. 1991 “Figures in Space” ARIEL GALLERY, Soho, New York. 1990 “Grand Prix De Paris International 1990” MUSEE D’ART MODERNE DE LA COMMANDERIE D’UNET, Tonneins, Bordeaux, France. 1990 “Approaches to the Figure” ARIEL GALLERY, New York New York. 1989 “The Three Americas” LUXEMBOURG MUSEUM, Paris France. 1988 ARIEL GALLERY, Soho, New York. 1988 CENTRE FOR THE ARTS, Vero Beach, Florida. 1984 “Paris Expo” CENTRE INTERNATIONAL D’ART CONTEMPORIAN, Paris France. 1984 BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM OF ART, Birmingham, Alabama. 1984 CAMINO REAL GALLERY, Boca Raton, Florida. 1979 VIRGINIA MILLER GALLERIES, Miami, Florida. 1972 “Florida Artists/New” LOWE MUSEUM, Miami, Florida.
Honors and Awards
1992 First Place for painting, MUSEE D’ART MODERNE DE LA COMMANDERE D’UNET, Tonneins, Bordeaux, France. 1991 First Place for creativity, MUSEE D’ART MODERNE DE LA COMMANDERIE D’UNET, Tonneins, Bordeaux, France. 1991 National Competition “Faber Birren Color Award Show”, Juror Laura Rosenstock, Curator MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, Stamford Art Association, Connecticut. 1990 First Place for painting, LA SORBONNE, Paris, France. 1988 First Place for abstract painting, CENTRE CULTURAL PAUL DUMAIL, Paris, France. 1985 Judges Mention d’Honneur, METROPOLIS GALERE INTERNATIONALE D’ART, Geneve, Switzerland. 1984 First Place painting, CENTRE INTERNATIONALE D’ART CONTEMPORIAN, Paris, France.
1991 Prestige de la Peinture et de la Sculpture d’ Aujourdhui dans le Monde, Les Editions Arts et Images due Monde. 1991 200 Notable American Women, ABI 1st Edition. 1990 The New York Art Review: An Illustrated Survey of the City’s Museums, galleries, and Leading Artists, American References. 1990 American Artist’s: An Illustrated Survey of Leading Contemporaries, American References. 1988 Who’s Who in Society, ABI. 1987 Foremost Women of the Twentieth Century, 1st Edition, World Distribution, IBC publication. 1987 Biography International : A Memorial Document on Men and Women of Achievement and Distinction, Delhi, India. 1985/1986 The Worlds Who’s Who of Women, Edition of Biographies, Cambridge, England. 1985/1986 Contributions to the Arts, Volume 13. 1985/1986 International Book of Honor, 2nd World Edition.
1985 Who’s Who in America, 43rd Edition. 1985 Distinguished Achievement in the Arts, 2nd Edition. 1984/1985 Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, 19th Edition. 1981 American Artists of Renown.
International Herald Tribune: “Large, almost totally abstract female nudes in simple shapes and vivid colors poised like an undulating landscape.” Laurent Charles Alfred, Director, MANDRAGORE INTERNATIONAL GALERIE D’ART, Paris, France: “In her work, I rediscovered the taste for rigor and sincerity that I am looking for.” La Cote Des Arts: “A. Rawlings investigates geometric paintings consisting of purposeful spatial concepts and the extension of the individual figure. An outstanding calculation of flowing line and colors that stretch out into the décor, creating diverse spatial experimentations.” Artspeak: “The figure paintings of Annette Rawlings employ the vocabulary of hardedge abstraction to create strong spatial statements. Her figures are defined by a sharp sinuous line, literally flow into the surrounding space, creating a brand new relationship between image and ground.” New York, New York. Art manual distributed in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, USA, and Belgium, Visages du xxeme siecle No. 71; “Rawlings paints with rare elegance, strong intimate scenes with stylized forms and structured color. She suggests figures with the minimum of details.” Paris, France.
Drawing and painting from life, I simplify the complex form of the female nude to a few lines and colors. Line expresses movement. Color expresses harmony, calm and serenity. I balance negative and positive space through shape and color, the figures bridging a gap between realism and abstraction.
In the interest of pictorial harmony I attempt to bring foreground and background planes into a single surface plane. I achieve this effect by bringing the same color from the background to the foreground, or by balancing color tones throughout the picture. This presents the illusion of a flat pictorial surface, simple, balanced and harmonious.
I then take this flat plane and extend the lines, shapes and colors onto various objects in other media such as vessels, fibres, film, paper and performance art events. These extensions of the flat pictorial surface into other media create different patterns of line, color and shape when translated onto three dimensional objects, thus forging new insights into the original work and providing a catalyst for new work, completing the creative cycle.
Studio/ Techniques/ Multi Media
“Le Collage” performing art dinner
“Art in Motion” performing art/ Art & Artwear
“Reality of Abstract Art” performing art/ Paintings Come to Life”
“Paintings & Their Extensions” video graphics
“Art in Motion” multi media performance art
(paintings/ film/ dance/ paper-making/ mimes/ photography/ gymnastics/ artwear/ music/ cuisine)
Miami Museum of Art
(formerly known as Center for Fine Art)