“I consider one’s art an extension of one’s life. My work, whether painting, drawing, writing, gardening, or performing is a visual or written translation of my life, feelings, people I have encountered, places I have been, and things I have seen.”
Louise Cutler’s latest paintings combine her love of gardening and fashion design. She studied fashion design at the International Academy of Merchandise and Design in Chicago and graduated with a tailoring certificate from Dunbar Vocational High School. Drawing has always come naturally for her; as a child, she drew continually. In grade school, her desks were often filled with pencil and crayon drawings of homes, cars, playgrounds, and people. She loved making images using clay and would often create an entire world. Her imagination was her way of escaping some of the harsh realities of life while growing up in the early sixties in urban America. “Even as a child, I knew art would forever be a part of my life.”
Ms. Cutler was in studio arts her first two years of high school and did extraordinarily well; she was chosen to participate in a summer arts program for exceptional high school art students. The program paid students to study at a college and produce art over the summer. She loved it and would have continued if not for an abrupt transfer to a new school. Gardening came a little later in her life; it wasn’t until after she had married her wonderful husband and mate she discovered her love for gardening and her green thumb.
Ms. Cutler’s work is often figurative with a semi-realistic approach. She loves people, faces and the clothed human form. Two of her favorite activities when out of town are people watching and taking pictures of people. She often creates collections of 15 to 20 paintings at a time. “Feelings come in so many different waves that to capture them you must be able to adjust. I like to ride the wave until it ends.” Over the years she has experimented with several different mediums and styles. Her skills as an artist range from working in pastel, oil, acrylic, clay, gliding, and mixed media art to writing plays, creating music, and performing drama. She considers herself multimedia, multicultural artist. Her workshops and classes hit on a range of artistic subject matters such as tie-dye, theater arts, pointillism, and stippling.
“I believe a true Artist experiments because he/she is in search of his/her voice”.
Her desire for peace and harmony is echoed throughout her work, something that was hard to achieve growing up in a family of nine. “I believe the purpose of my paintings is to bring peace and serenity into a world where chaos has become the norm."Her paintings are figurative with nature as the backdrop. Each figure is draped in lovely garments, which are then transformed into divinely beautiful works of art through the use of acrylics and gilding. Ms. Cutler chose the art of gilding because of its illusional effect of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Gilding is the process of affixing tissue-thin sheets of precious or common metals to a carefully-prepared surface using a special adhesive size to create a lustrous metallic finish. Gilding is an ancient craft that dates back to Egyptian and Biblical times. Gilding was very popular in Italy during the middle ages, until the late Renaissance. It was used to highlight religious paintings and carvings.
Ms. Cutler uses the metal leaf to enhance and highlight the illusion of simplistic grandeur. She uses several different types of metal leaf in her work: 21 and 23 kt. gold, white gold, copper and variegated metal leaf. The variegated leaf is one of her favorite metals. It is a heat-treated composition that creates colorful patterns on the surface of the metal. You will see this metal in quite a few of Ms. Cutler’s paintings. She discontinued the use of sterling silver metal in her painting because it tarnished, and exchanged it with white gold.
Ms. Cutler likes to design her gowns and robed forms with a sense of delicate elegance, glamor, and sophistication that is reminiscent of times past when women wore gloves and didn’t go out without a hat. “I fear that someday this type of beauty and elegance will no longer exist even in our minds if we do not embrace and preserve it. I believe we can combine the past and present in a way that will create harmony and paintings that are visually pleasing to the viewer.”
She purposely leaves out the face. “I find faces irrelevant to this work. They would only add complications for the viewer. My paintings are meant to be enjoyed in their entirety, from the form out not just for the sake of a face.” Ms. Cutler ideas and style references are often from her own imagination: old photos that she has purchased at estate sales or flea markets, late European masters and the Asian culture. “I find this eclectic blend of cultures and form fascinatingly refreshing”. She leaves the negative space in my painting to their own devices to form as they please. “I find when left alone they create a nice sense of balance giving the viewer a place to find calm and rest. It’s like having a place to lay one's head.”
Her desire to continually develop and explore her craft through travel, classes, books and people keeps her work fresh. But it’s her love and interest in humanity that gives her work the ability to connect with people on a more spiritual and emotional level. “One of my greatest desires as an artist is someday to see all of the great masters works I have ever read about or have seen in classes throughout my life. This coupled with my studies would mean everything to me.”
In pursuit of her desire to visit the great works of the early masters, Ms. Cutler traveled to London with her husband where she visited the National Gallery twice. She would have gone a third and fourth time, but it was her first time in London and there were more things to see and do (one being a visit to the Tate Gallery) as well as a few other historical places. While In London her life was changed; she came back a more determined and deliberate artist. Before going she could paint, draw and capture her subject matter. However she discovered the early artists not only mastered their art and captured their subject they also governed themselves in their craft and in the process discovered their artistic voices beyond their craft and their medium. This artistic voice was now something she was in search of.
She travel to Paris where she visited the Louvre five times on three separate trips to this great city, first in “1998”, then in “2002” and finally 2011. Her first trip to Paris was only for three days during a layover from spending two weeks in Africa with her husband on a mission trip. There she taught art to the local village children. She drew many portraits while in Africa of the children. She learned much about the culture. After returning home she created a series of pastel paintings depicting her trip. The trip to Paris was a treat; she spent all three days in the Louvre. Her favorite piece was the Winged Victory that sits towering over the top of a stairway. Her favorite galley contained religious art from the Italian Renaissances period. This is where she first discovered her love of gilding. These two areas of Louvre are still her favorite even now after her third visit. Her second trip to Paris was longer. This time she was there two weeks and was able to see much more but still spent time in Louvre. She fell in love with the street cafés but her favorite place was Montmartre. On her last visit to Paris, it felt like visiting an old friend, exploring with her children and viewing Paris from their eyes. It was magnificent and yes, they visited the Louvre. However, this time with even more intent Ms. Cutler uncovered something new in her favorite gallery. She discovered with closer examination within the gilding of the halos of the Italian Renaissance religious painting there were etched patterns — etched patterns. “Wow!” Even with this third visit under her belt she still feels she has only scratched the surface of seeing and understanding the magnitude of greatness these artists possessed.
Rome, “I love Paris, but I adore Rome”. During her time there she visited the Vatican and saw her favorite of all paintings, “The School of Athens” by Raphael and stood in the presence of the Sistine Chapel. It was magnificent. She traveled through the many monuments and churches that housed some of the most amazing paintings and sculptures of the early masters. It was a treasure hunt. Her favorite place in Rome was the Galleria Borghese. It was like coming face to face with Bernini himself. “To know who you are and what your life’s work is at such a young age. Wow!” She discovered one of his most famous sculptures “The Ecstasy of Teresa” in a small church chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, As well as two of her favorite paintings, “The Crucifixion of Saint Peter”, and “The Conversion of Saint Paul” by Caravaggio located in Santa Maria del Popolo the morning just before leaving Rome. This was the most incredible thing about Rome, the fact that all of this amazing work was all around you in various churches not just in a museum. “I will forever live in the wonderful land of “Ah!” Even if I were to visit these great works a million times, I would not lose my passion for them.”
Other Travels included Niger Africa, Turkey, Istanbul, Blue Mosque, Ephesus, Cappadocia, Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien and the Enter Bosch: The Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Slovakia, Egypt, Egyptian Museum, Alexandria, and India Old Delhi, Agra, Mumbai,
Louise attended Malcolm X Jr. College where her mother persuaded her to pursue a career in nursing. This didn’t go over well as she hated hospitals. As you guessed she never made it to the nursing program and with no other major insight she took the advice of her older brother who was an artist in his own right and knowing her talents, suggested she take some art courses she took his advice and ended up staying at the two-year Junior College three years taking everything they had to offer in the field of art. By the time she graduated with her Associate degree, she had become the first student in Malcolm X Junior College’s history to graduate with an Associates degree in Fine Art. After Malcolm X she studied at the University of Illinois Chicago with a major in early childhood education, but this was not what she truly wanted. While in high school she discovered her love for designing and making clothing, especially gowns so she entered the International Academy of Merchandise and Design, but the lack of finances ended her quest so she entered the stimulating world of employment.
After several sessions of retail sales jobs (in every sort of venue one could possibly imagine), a few tailoring jobs here and there, on-stage acting and runway modeling Ms. Cutler finally, with the help of a friend, began working at one of the most exciting places of her retail career, an art store in downtown Chicago. This opened up a whole new avenue for her. Her knowledge of art materials and supplies increased dramatically and artist and art people on a daily basis surrounded her. She was learning more about art than she had ever thought possible. Ms. Cutler loved downtown Chicago, it had a life of its own. There was such an amazing subculture among the tall building and business- as -usual people, the street performers, the homeless, the shoe shiners, the street artist, and Bohemians of Chicago. She couldn’t help but be drawn to it.
After working at the art store for a few weeks, she was persuaded by one of the street artists to come and join them on the streets drawing people for money. Louise had never drawn on the streets before and the only models she had ever used were in a studio setting. This was a little intimidating. But she took him up on it and became a regular fixture in the portrait art scene on the streets of Chicago. Her steady start-up model was her son, without whom her life would have been incomplete. Her life as a street artist taught her a lot about people and their struggles and the extra money helped out with her bills. Ms. Cutler was only a part-time employee then and didn’t believe in giving a job much of her life unless it was what she felt her life’s calling. Retail was definitely not it. As a street artist, she traveled with a team of other artists to all the local fair and festivals, sometimes drawing between seventy to a hundred people a day. Her skills in portrait quick sketch had improved to the point where she could sketch out a person within ten minutes. She learned that there was an art to quick sketching on the street. “People were not interested in us capturing the absolute truth, but just enough of it to make it appear as reality.” This was totally different from what she had learned in school.
After a few months of working in the art store, Ms. Cutler’s sister convinced her she should volunteer some of her free time at a local Park District, the knowledge she had gained from working in the art store mixed with her art skills help get her in the door so she entered the wonderful world of teaching, (and what a wonderful world it was). Louise became so involved with the Park District she only drew with the street artists on the weekends and during the summer. Her volunteer work was noticed by one of the heads of the Park District and a full-time position was created for her as an Art-Craft /Drama Instructor. She had found her life’s work and it was art. But this was only the beginning.
In 2020 Louise created and founded the Beauty Of Blackness Fine Art Show. A Premier Indoors live Stream Fine Art Show that streamed live on-line from Artist studios across the country for 4 days with over 30hrs of content. It was the first show of its kind. In 2014 she was chosen by Art Business News magazine as one of America’s Top Emerging Artist. She took home the coveted SOLO Artist of The Year award in 2013 at the “The Artexpo, New York.” She has worked for the Evanston Fine Art Center, the Noyes Cultural Art Center, and the Colorado Springs Bemis School of Arts. She helped develop art programs for the City of Chicago, appeared on UPN’s, (United Paramount Network) Channel 50 Kids Talk program, and on cable Channel 6 in Evanston. She received grants from the Evanston Arts Council in 1998 and 2000 to develop for youth programming. While at Douglas Park she was the coordinator for the after school and summer day camp programs, She also sat on planning and development committees for Chicago Park District, and First Night Evanston. She served as a juror for the Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival, 2002. She has written and produced several plays and performance art pieces for the Drama Department at Douglas Park Cultural and Community Center, and The Crusader's Church youth department, both in Chicago. She was instrumental in the transformation of Douglas Park field house into the Douglas Park Cultural and Community Center as it is today.
Ms Cutler always knew she would be a full time Artist so in 1997 she decided to leave her Art instructors job and pursue her visual arts career full time. Since then her paintings have been shown in the DuSable Museum of African American Art, The Museum of Science and Industry, Fort Collins Museum of Arts, Denver Seminary and throughout Illinois, New York, Atlanta, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and several venues throughout Colorado. Her paintings have also graced the covers of business brochures, calendars, and directories. She has won numerous competitions, awards, and grants and has been featured in several newspapers throughout the Chicago-land area and Colorado Springs. Ms. Cutler was the founder and creator of Art In The Rail Garden, an outdoor gallery along the Metra railroad tracks in an alley near her home while in Evanston. A large mural, “Natural Harmony" was added along the underpass leading into the alley for which she received a grant from the Evanston Cultural Arts Fund. The Gallery garden was featured in the Chicago Reader, and the Evanston Review.
Her art programs focus on personal development, strengthening family ties, and commitment to the local community through art. Ms. Cutler took 2007-2009 off from painting to focus her attention on a musical stage production "Think About It” that she had written and produced. “Think About It” deals with the HIV/AIDS crisis here in the US, with a large focus on the African American Community. Her show premiered in Colorado Springs, CO. in October of 2007 and in Chicago in June of 2008 through the Chicago Park District, with great feedback from the audience. Her hope was to take the musical throughout the US and beyond in a desire to help promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention through the arts and to save a few lives on the way.
Ms. Cutler likes doing whatever fits her at the moment: “I believe in using every medium at my disposal as a form of creative expression so I am in a continual state of creativeness”.
My work almost always starts with a figurative form, then everything else grows around it. The figure gives birth to the rest. I am a Mix-media, multi-cultural artist and sculptor with a focus on nature and the clothed human form. Simplicity, peace, harmony, and calm, is my mantra. This is echo throughout my work. I try to continually live in the now, forgetting those things that are behind and awaiting what lies ahead. Every day is a new day with no mistakes in it. My paintings are gilded works on paper that I sculpt in clay, which is then cast in bronze to create my sculptures.
I am not poor nor starving. I absolutely love what I do. If I could, I would choose to lock myself in my studio and paint for the rest of my life, and never come out and be at peace. However, I believe to whom much is given, much is required. Every painting or sculpture I sell to someone gives me the opportunity to leave a portion of myself and my beliefs in the world and gives them the chance to be a part of my history in the making. Art and creativity were meant to be shared.
The Fine Art of Gilding is the process of affixing tissue-thin sheets of precious or common metals to a carefully-prepared surface using a special adhesive size to create a lustrous metallic finish. Gilding is an ancient craft that dates back to Egyptian and Biblical times. Gilding was very popular in Italy during the middle ages, until the late Renaissance. It was used to highlight religious paintings and carvings. In the world of art today, crafters use gilding typically as a decorative adornment for furnishings and craft related items.
Ms. Cutler chose to use gilding in her painting after a visit to the Louvre in Paris. Her favorite galley contained the religious art of the Italian Renaissances period. She was fascinated with the use of metal leaf in the work. It was used not only as a form of showing the divine, but also on garments. This is where she first discovered her love for this art form. She marveled at its illusional effect of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. After returning home she began to learn all she could about gilding and the materials needed. She decided to use metal leaf in her paintings to enhance and highlight the illusion of simplistic grandeur. Ms. Cutler works with several different types of metal leaf: 21 and 23 kt. gold, white gold, copper, variegated and dutch metal leaf. The variegated leaf is one of her favorite metals. It is a heat-treated composition that creates colorful patterns on the surface of the metal. You will see this metal in quite a few of Ms. Cutler’s paintings. She discontinued the use of sterling silver metal in her painting because it tarnished, and exchanged it with white gold.
Ms. Cutler designs her gowns and robed with a sense of delicate elegance, glamor, and sophistication. In her paintings, Ms. Cutler uses two forms of acrylic mediums: a liquid acrylic, which is a fluid version of acrylic having the consistency of ink that produces some amazing iridescent colors, and a more concentrated condensed acrylic. She also uses ink instead of water along with her acrylic to eliminate water’s diluting effects on the colors. She chose watercolor paper for its texture, surface, and durability. Unlike canvas, watercolor paper creates the illusion of delicacy that works well with her painting style. She did, however, experience some degree of difficulty when applying metal leaf to the surface of the watercolor paper because of its absorbency. Through trial and error, she finally came up with a solution that worked.
She purposely leaves out the face. “I find faces irrelevant to this work. They would only add complications to the viewer. As with my paintings, my sculptures are meant to be enjoyed in their entirety, from the form out not just for the sake of a face.” Ms. Cutler ideas and style references are often from her own imagination: old photos that she has purchased at estate sales or flea markets, late European masters and the Asian culture. “I find this eclectic blend of cultures and form fascinatingly refreshing.” She leaves the negative space in her painting to their own devices to form as they please. “I find when left alone negative space create a nice sense of balance giving the viewer a place to find calm and rest. It’s like having a place to lay one's head.”
Mrs. Cutler uses two basic sculpting techniques: Relief and Sculpture in the Round. The term relief is from the Latin verb relevo, to raise. To create a relief one must give the appearance that the sculpted materials have been raised above the background plane. There are different degrees of relief, however, Mrs. Cutler prefers to use the High Relief technique (Alto-rilievo). High Relief is created when more than fifty percent of the depth is shown. The other technique she uses is the Sculpture in the Round or freestanding sculpture. The Sculpture in the round is not attached to any other surface (except for possibly a base). Reliefs are at least partly attached to a background surface whereas freestanding sculptures are not.
Mrs. Cutler sculptures are unique, they began their journey as paintings. Ms Cutler started transforming her paintings into sculptures in 2012. However, the idea came to her 9 years before when she began creating a series of paintings entitled the “Awakening of the Spirit”. While working on the painting entitled “Mother’s Love” she noticed a free-forming sculpture-like feel to the image. As she stood back to observe her work it became clear that this piece would one day be transformed into a sculpture.
Up Coming Exhibits
A Culture Preserved In The Black Experience, Museum Of Art Fort Collin Co. July-Oct 2022
CWCA, Best Of Women, Stola Contemporary Art Gallery Chicago, Jan – March 2022
Art Of The State Arvada Art Center Gallery, Arvada Co Jan- March 2022
Members Exhibit, Over, Under, Further, Forever, Denver Co. Jan – Feb 2022
The Royal Academy Summer Art Exhibition, London Sept 22, 2021-Jan 2, 2022
The Beauty Of Blackness Fine Art Show Exhibit, Fort Collins Co. Aug. -Sept 2021
Creative Quarantine Exhibit, Springfield Massachusetts May 2021
Solo Exhibit, Four Chapter Gallery, Kanase City, January-Febuary 2021
Group Exhibit, Hamilton Gallery Denver January - April 2021
Group Online Exhibit Grace Commons "Advent", Boulder, Dec. 2020
Group Exhibit, Deep Breath, Denver Seminary, Sep-Dec. 2020
Social Justice thru the Arts Summer Institute, Featured Artist, Colorado State University 2022
Female Artist of the Year African American Voice 2008 Colorado Springs Co.
Dusable Museum Chicago, July, 2000 Award of Distinction
City of Evanston / Evanston Arts Council, Cultural Fund Grant, 2000
Manhattan Arts International l9th Annual Cover Art Competition New York, NY Artist Showcase Award July-August 2000 Issue
Manhattan Arts International New York, NY Herstory Competition Honorable Mention March-April, 2000
City of Evanston / Evanston Arts Council, Cultural Fund Grant, 1998
Art Work Featured In WGCI-AM/FM & Kraft Foods 1999, Calendar of African-American Art
Reporter Herald "Beauty of Blackness: Fort Collins virtual show assembles renowned artists of color, studio tours, intimate Q&As"
Ellen Pritsker “Cutler Makes Art Garden Grow”, Pioneer Press, Diversions Section August, 2001
Ted Kleine “Gallery Tripping: Field and Street”, Chicago Reader, June 2001
Victoria Scott “Louise’s Garden: Serenity and Serendipity Along the Tracks” Evanston Round Table, June 2000
Weekend With The Masters Colorado Springs, CO 2009
Malcolm X. Jr. College: Chicago IL. Sept. 1983- May 1986 Major: Fine Art with a minor in Child Development Received an Associate in Fine Art
University Of Illinois At Chicago, Sept.. 1986- June 1987 Major: Early Childhood Education, and Art Education
Academy of Merchandise An Design, Sept. 1987- June 1988 Major: Fashion Design
ISACCN Illinois School Age Child Care Network March 1996 School Age Child Care Staff Conference
Artworks, 1997 and Potshop, 1997 Pottery Work: Wheel Throwing
Colorado Spring Fine Art Center: Bemis School of Arts 08 -10
Colorado Springs Colorado Colorado Springs Christian Academy Artist Day 2009, Colorado Springs Co.
Noyes Cultural Arts Center, February, 2001, Evanston IL
Chicago Park District, Chicago IL. 1993-1997 Head of the Cultural Arts Department Special Recreational Activity Instructor, Specializing in Art, Craft and Drama After school and summer day camp program coordinator
Evanston Art Center, Evanston IL. 1997-1999 Part time After School and Summer camp Art Instructor
Noyes Cultural Art Center, Evanston IL. 2001 Creator of Youth and parent Art Worksh
Art Related Television Appearances
UPN’s channel 50 “Kids Talk” program on behalf of the Chicago Park District 1997
Cable Channel 6 in Evanston on behalf of the Noyes Cultural Arts Center. February 2001
Selected Past Exhibitions
Deep Breath, Denver Seminary art show 2020
Beauty Of Blackness Fine Art Show 2020
Colorado Showcase 2018 Nov. 2- Dec. 24 Parker Co. Sculpture In The Park 2018 36th Annual Show August 9th, 10th and 11th, 2019 Loveland Co.
Shapes Fort Collins Museum of Arts 2012 F/C Colorado
New York Art Expo 2012 New York NY
Studio Tour Exhibition 2011 Fort Collins Co.
Colorado Technical College, June 2007, Colorado Springs Co.
Barnes & Noble Book Sellers April 2004, Colorado Springs Co.
Nicole Gallery, Consciousness and Condition III March -May 2004, Downtown Chicago Nicole Gallery, Downtown Chicago, January, 1999,2002, 2003
New York Art Expo February, 2002/2003
Cafe Express Gallery The World As I See It August, 2001, Evanston IL
ARC Gallery, July, 2002, Chicago
Dusable Museum, And The Winners Are, 2000 award winners July, 2001, Chicago, IL
Noyes Cultural Arts Center, February, 2001, Evanston IL Anatomically Correct, Art in Public Spaces, Northlight Theatre, February, 2001 Skokie IL
Tall Grass Art Association, Visions of Africa, February, 2001, Park Forest IL
D-Gallery, December, 2000, Evanston IL
Havre De Grace Arts Commission 10th International art Exhibition July, 2000, Havre de Grace, MD
Blue Moon Gallery June, 2000, Skokie IL
Art Association of Harrisburg 72nd Annual Juried Exhibition May, 2000, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Tall Grass Art Association April, 2000, Park Forest, IL
13th Annual Women’s Works Fine Art Exhibit Woodstock, IL.,March thru April, 2000
Uptown Public Library, Chicago, IL, February, 2000
Museum of Science and Industry Black Creativity, Chicago, IL., January, 2000
Art in the Rail Garden, Evanston, IL. July, 1999
Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL., July, 1999
Las Manos Gallery, Chicago, IL., March, 1999
Chicago Art Open, Chicago Artists’ Coalition, November, 1998
Boulevard Art Center, “Strength”, Chicago, March, 1997
Douglas Park Cultural and Community Center, Gallery 1401 “The Strength of Womanhood, March 1997 “Black History Exhibit, February, 1997 “Art Across Chicago”, November,1996
Fairs and Festivals Edwards Fine Arts Festival Edwards Co 2011
Windsor Fine Arts Festival Windsor Co 2011
Creative Garden Fine Arts Festival, Fort Collins Co 2011
Merchandise Mart One of A Kind, Fine Art Exhibition December, 2001, Chicago Paradise City Fairs of Fine and Functional Art North Hampton, Ma and Philadelphia
Thunderbird Artist Fine Art and Wine Festival Carefree, Co.