Inspired by the spirit of human interaction and interconnectedness, abstract artist Glenyse Thompson wields her talent to “find beauty in the simplicity of hearing others.” Her meaningful creations display the fluidity of social interplay and the lasting impressions they leave us with. Her prominent backdrops represent individuals, while hand-drawn lines of white and gold display the flow and ebb of our interactions as social beings. Her roots are in Chicago; however, she currently draws inspiration from her Floridian living. Hear from the artist herself as she divulges the secrets to her creativity.
Glenyse Thompson by Christina Jones Photography.
Michiel Perry: Can you describe your early influences that inspired or emboldened your pursuit of art?
Glenyse Thompson: Growing up in Chicago, I attended Sunday Services with my grandmother, Pearl. Every Sunday was a parade of color, whimsy, big hats, bold outfits and fabulousness, much of which she had a hand in. Pearl was a beautician (which is an art) and my Saturdays were filled watching my Granny make women feel their absolute best by pressing comb, discussions about the latest fashion and makeup, and possibly a side of juicy gossip. My first job was in her beauty shop, sweeping, etc. Pearl also knew how to sew; she would make her own dresses. Her fabric selections and badass style made her a local sensation. Pearl’s life emboldens the color choices I make today.
My mom, Bonita, introduced me and my siblings to free days at the Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum and The Shedd. We would go to sit and watch the planes land at Meigs Field, which cultivated an unending wish to travel the world. My favorite spot to dream was on the steps of MOSI, surveying the beautiful architecture, and walking to the Japanese Gardens to see what Mother Nature had revealed lately.
Those early introductions to the museums, fashion, nature and beauty have driven me to be fearless with color in abstraction, fearlessly asking the viewer to be more aware.
Michiel: What’s the inspiration for the vibrant colors and the flow of the shapes displayed in your paintings?
Glenyse: My inspiration comes from the many interactions we have throughout our days with others; conversations shown in a visual manner, demonstrating we are more similar than not. Background colors are used to demonstrate how lively the ebb and flow of discussions are and hand-drawn lines illustrate how we converse with others during the course of a day, evening or at an event.
My paintings and hand drawings have everything to do with how we interact daily. Conversation is something we would miss if not happening, yet we rarely stop to think how much value we should place on it. We are nothing without each other.
“Everyone Has to Choose a Side” by Glenyse Thompson.
Michiel: What do you want your art to communicate?
Glenyse: My goal is to inspire those who see my work to listen more carefully to the people around them and find beauty in the simplicity of hearing others.
Michiel: Do you consider different cultural experiences or how your art is perceived over time when creating your art?
Glenyse: I do not consider different cultural experiences or how my art is perceived as much as how my own life informs what my work conveys. If I had to consider perception my inner critic may not ever want the work to be seen.
Michiel: How do you motivate yourself to start your next piece?
Glenyse: I have set times to create so I am always ready to get to it. I love making the work and wish I had more time to do so.
I have two lanes of work; each informs the other. Starting with a 11×14 sheet of paper I sketch or choose an ink color, water and start creating. These works are kept for licensing and furthering other ideas. If I love a smaller work, I then expand onto 24×36 or larger Ampersand Aquaboard or paper. These works are offered for collectors or interior design applications. Commissions are usually a reflection of a specific work previously created.
Previously I would sketch, and then create. My sketches started to feel like they were holding me back-the idea in the sketchbook didn’t always connect with the finished art, so I have put this part of my practice away for now.
“Big Shoulders Four” by Glenyse Thompson.
Michiel: What is your favorite connection or experience you have had after finishing a piece of art?
Glenyse: All my work is special to me; it is that favorite child syndrome. It is a fantastic feeling to know your work resonated with someone else so much that they would like to have it in their space. Once a collector decides a work that I have created should live with them I am ecstatic.
Michiel: How does living in Florida influence the many ways you express your art?
Glenyse: Florida is a stunning place to live. Natural beauty and bold colors are everywhere. Even the storms are more vibrant in Florida. These colors are directly reflected in my work. Once you have seen it, you cannot unsee all its gorgeousness. I show the same in my work; bold, exuberant, lush color.
Michiel: Can you describe feedback from one of your art pieces that made you see your art in a different way?
Glenyse: I worked on a series of custom artworks for a shelter mag cover in late 2020. In the initial meetings, the selection team indicated they thought my work was beautiful without the lines. This was not the first time I heard that feedback and I decided I should explore this version of work. Eventually, the team chose a work that did include hand-drawn lines with a colorful background. I have since expanded on pushing to make abstract art that has depth and speaks to my creative vision. This newer work has been greatly received by my audience.
“We Should All Be Stars” by Glenyse Thompson
Michiel: For the Obsidian Virtual Concept House by Black Artists + Designers Guild, Creators commissioned custom works from you. What was the experience like collaborating with BADG Creators to create custom artwork for a virtual house?
Glenyse: It was a dream job, and a breeze as each designer knew exactly what they wanted. The entire house is stunning!
Michiel: Do you have another passion that fuels your art?
Glenyse: Passions that fuel my art include newsletters that shower you with beautiful design and artistic points of view. A few of my favorites are Business of Home, aspire design and home, The Monocle Minute, Culture Type (Victoria L. Valentine!!!), The Creative Independent, Surface Magazine Design Dispatch. Travel, museums, people, vintage movies and books also inform my art; on the desk right now are Posing Modernity and The Bald Mermaid.
“Dancing with Bill” by Glenyse Thompson.
Michiel: Can you describe your networking experience with other artists and navigating how you promote your work using different channels?
Glenyse: The art world umbrella is huge. Networking and relationships are the inroads to being seen.
My networking experience with other artists has been great. Initially I was nervous about asking questions from the artists, curators, or art professionals that I was meeting (mostly through exhibiting). These relationships have informed my growth as a working artist and designer. When others reach out to me with questions, I answer.
Most of my promotion is through Instagram, press or collaborations.
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