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Rachel Veal


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“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.”

Helena Bonham Carter

Artist Bio

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Creativity is an innate part of my being, as if I fell into a chemically laden paint can or had been bitten by a very artsy spider. In fact, if I were a superhero I would probably wield a paintbrush or pencil to create new dimensions or extra assistance in a battle against evil villains. 

In my civilian life, though, I prefer to experience art with others. As a creative artist sharing my own inspired pieces or creating commissioned work helping others connect to art and discover their own inner artist in the process. 

Feel free to look at my artwork here on the site, wherever it is on exhibit, or by appointment. I'm also available for commissions, workshops, and speaking engagements. 

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Mea Impellant Cor Cessaverunt

The heart beats and we live. The heart stops and we stop. The heart searches for another heart. The heart ceases slowly if it is always alone. Mea Impellant Cor Cessaverunt echoes these feelings that we are meant to find a soul mate and without we are somehow torn in two from the beginning motion of our physical heart beating. The truth that our heart pumping blood through our veins sustains our lives is hope, though, that there is another heart beating somewhere, searching, bleeding, loving us the same. 

(found wood, ink, transfer images, wax, thread, found objects//24” x 10.5”)                                       

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Guitarist is one of several in a series of paintings and quick studies I collectively call Musicians, Dancers, and Figures. (most recently on exhibit at The Tap House in St. Elmo) 

As I painted, I imagined myself as part of these moments and movements, sometimes precise to create a perfect line or hit the note on the exact downbeat, other times fluid transitioning to a turn or slurring the eighth notes together on the tip of the reed. Caught in time and propelled into it like in a dance, as if in a song.

As a dancer, it felt natural to explore that physical art through the visual medium of paint. Musicality—timing, rhythm, expression—as a symbiotic part of dancing innately overflowed into that process. I painted these with movement as an inherent guide—movement in a dancer’s body, movement in the sound waves of an instruments, movement in the brushstrokes—as if each was a moment held on pause and could continue into the next motion by simply pressing “play”. (Guitarist//oil on Masonite//14” x 11”)

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Tall Grass

My paintings in Portraits of Poverty expressively reflect less publicized images of children in poverty; works influenced greatly by her experience in education. Growing up in and teaching in an environment of poverty made me very aware of the ways society views those living in poverty while also giving me a deep understanding of poverty, specifically from a child’s perception. I hope to convey the culture of poverty with integrity through my paintings. Rather than painting images that stir a sense of pity toward or loathsomeness of this group, I want to show the people as fellow human beings who also happen to be living in this culture. Children also create an immediate humanistic connection. As a result, I have chosen to paint the lives of children—students from my own classroom, people I have grown to know in the community where I worked, and my own memories of childhood poverty. 

While I want to keep the paintings honest with regards to the culture, I also don’t want to create a documentary. I want to bridge the disconnect in understanding, so I painted expressively and with saturated color.  I experimented with value, pushing the boundaries between light and dark as a metaphor for the imbalance in regards to poverty within our society as well as emphasizing the innocence of childhood. Laying out my palette, I thought about primary colors in relation to childhood and also about saturated colors intensifying the emotion of the specific painting. When applying the paint, I imagined myself a child again, using large brush strokes and allowing myself to feel an emotional connection between the paint and the subject as if the paint and brush were my feelings spilling out of me all at once.

My paintings in Portraits of Poverty are at once cathartic and purposeful for me. While I feel I am sharing intimate views of my life and the lives of these children about whom I care deeply, they also offer me a way to give a voice to their often misunderstood and misrepresented life. (Tall Grass//oil on Masonite//16” x 20”)

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It let’s all the light in, even if there is only the tiniest bit to see. It lets it in and transforms it, like it’s holding it there for you to feel, touch, smell, breathe it in, bathe in its hypnotic glow. Glass. Delicate. Easily broken. Sharp edges, dangerous corners, unforgiving surface (How well I know; trust me, I sliced my finger open while washing dishes). But there is something beautiful in its fragility…something scintillating in its precarious nature…something mesmerizing in the way it is unforgivingly honest and always on the precipice of uncertainty—will it break or won’t it?

Lately glass has been my substrate of choice for painting. Usually, I’m more enamored of the medium, but glass has shattered my color bubble and stolen my attention. It is somewhat self selecting for me when it comes to paint and color because I want the glass to be the noticeable presence, to work in tandem with whatever covers its surface, like they are one. Which means I’ve been using an etching cream to transform the glass and a wax based paint in muted colors like browns, blues, greens, softer pinks, grays, golds—colors that I might associate with water, earth, sky, and the softest burn of a morning sunrise.

When I was working on From Now Until the End for the Examinations exhibit between AVA and The Hunter, I was drawn to the Hunter’s Wilmarth piece for inspiration and fell in love with glass. For me, the glass is as much of the art as the color or patterns I add, the glass almost directs me where it wants me to add texture, line, and pattern. It speaks through the spaces between, transforming the world through its perspective—sometimes adding such a clarity that you can hear it sing, sometimes a filter of haziness that you can feel its embrace—adjusting the light by which we see.




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Painting On, Painting On Broken Glass...


What's That Sound?

How Did We Get Here?

Art has always been a constant for me from the time I was 3 or 4 I was creating--making art, writing stories, dressing and acting as the characters I dreamed in my own imagination, and sharing those creations with the people central to my childhood world. Somewhere along the way, though, when childhood transitioned into adulthood and real jobs and making a living and declaring a major in an order to do so became the focus, I got scared. I felt pushed. I felt pulled. I felt trapped in the confines of the world’s standard expectations. The oldest child. The first in my entire family to attend college. Some of the weight I picked up myself; some I allowed others to place on me. And the firelight of my dreams waned to small glowing embers of “maybe” and “someday”.  

I finished my degree in education and taught for the amount of time I’d promised. On good days, I reminded myself that there would be time for my dreams to reach their sky. On other days, it felt like I was serving a prison sentence. Still, my need to make art and finding ways to do it never ceased. Murals on nursery walls, photographs, elaborately crafted birthday cards, handmade gifts…I enrolled in a Master’s of Fine Art program in hopes that there would be some clues on making a living as a working artist. Let’s be real, I was hoping for a yellow brick road, Glenda, and a pair of ruby slippers to show me how to honestly add the adjective “working” in front of artist and attach all of that to my name—i.e. Here’s How to Make it as an Artist! I’ve always been more of a Wonderland girl than an Oz one, though, so my path has been paved with Cheshire Cats, Mad Hatters, and White Rabbits as I journey on hoping the deck of cards isn’t stacked against me, that the Queen doesn’t take my head, and the Jabberwocky isn’t looming around the next corner.

I’m still not where I want to be. I’m still keeping a day job—at least this one involves working around art. I’m still in pursuit of different day job that would offer me a way to at least make art while also making money. I’m still trusting the Spirit to guide me. I’m still seeking the direction from the One in Whom I live and move and have my being. I’m still pursuing my passion as an artist in making, creating, doing, and attempting to show that work—sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least the embers of my dreams are waxing more fully these days. I would create whether I had a space to show my work or not. Art is an intrinsic part of my being, permeating all of my life. I have to do it—sometimes that feels like making moveable shapes with my body as I dance, sometimes it tastes like mixing ingredients to find new flavor, sometimes it sounds like using words to conjure images and emotions or looks like using paint, color, texture, and all the things in my world to do the same. I have a Master’s in Studio Art, but it’s living that makes it Real.  And I think living is really the truest form of art; for me, that also means caring about those who are living on the earth with me—the underdogs and the upperdogs, strangers and the people I know and love most like my family (especially my two sweet nephews) and ever in search of the elusive one true love.

For me art is fully sensory. It’s not only something we see, it’s what we hear, taste, touch, smell and how that sensory experience speaks to our beings—it may be as simple as our walking away thinking “that was fun!” or so inceptive that we can’t walk away from it, it follows us, it speaks to us in a way that wakes up feelings and thoughts and imaginings we didn’t even know were sleeping.  

Art, in my perception at least, is meant to speak to our whole person not only our eyes and we are multifaceted…multisensory…multidimensional so art should be also. I think about the people who are blind and can’t use their eyes to see the color or shape or design, but their other senses can still perceive beauty or anguish or joy; their other senses can speak to the ideas of color, shape, and design. I think about people who have sensory processing differences and those with synesthesia who hear color and taste sound and experience the world with such unique acuity. I also think about children (and adults) who want to explore and learn by using their hands and voices and eyes, too.

That’s why I appreciate interactive artwork. That’s why I’m working on a couple of projects (that will hopefully have a place to be exhibited with their full sensory components available for experience at some point) that integrate the senses. The most recent of those is From Now Until the End with sound attached which was on display at AVA in August.

I also like to use my own sensorial imagination to smell the fragrances and taste the flavors and hear the sounds in work…like the bluesy tone that this saxophone player is breathing into the world…

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The Tap House

December 2017-January 2018

I have the privilege of bidding adieu to one year and bonjour to the new as the solo featured artist at The Tap House in St. Elmo. You can see and purchase a variety of my work, mixed media and figure paintings, right off the walls! Be sure to come out to say hello during the Meet the Artist event, too. (Chassure Ruban//oil on artboard//10” x 8”)


AVA:FRESH Exhibition

September-October 2017

I am honored to be counted among the artists for AVA's annual jury selected FRESH exhibition. 

Just A Number is lined with reference to place. The stripes mimic a prison uniform and hint at prison bars. The number, 24601, is recognizable on its own to Les Miserables veterans; it belongs to Jean Valjean. The red drops beneath the bird's feet evoke the idea of spilled blood and maybe life lost in the course of his feathered story. Still, he exists freely in this scene. Perhaps he has just been released and, if he wanted, could lift his wings to fly.  (just a number//ink, paper, fabric, wax//17" x 20.5")

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AVA & Hunter Museum: Examinations

August 2017

So many talented artists to share the gallery space with during this hand selected exhibit featuring artists who were inspired by work at the Hunter Museum.

(From Now Until the End// With reference to Susan Walked In by Christopher Wilmarth

Structure: steel beams, steel wire, & glass

So much gratefulness, love, and admiration for my brother in law, Colby Stults, for his assistance with the welding and laying the track for the glass.

Sound: Clear by needtobreathe// instrumental paino cover by Chris Ainsworth)                                                                                                                                                           

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