About the Artist
Over the years her various studios have been in garden settings. Her current studio is in Epworth, Georgia, a perfect place to watch the changes of season in the mountain surroundings.
Prior to moving to Georgia the glass wall of her studio in Oviedo, Florida was a window on the world of tropical plants, orchids, lizards, snakes, and wild turkeys.
In San Antonio she could see Live Oak trees and her children playing on the tire swing she had painted just for them.
Born and raised in New Orleans Rommel was introduced to art by parents who loved museums and gallery trips. Her K-12 school encouraged the arts, where she learned to throw clay pots with potter Phyllis May and where she was taught patience and attention to detail by Helen Trivigno, gifted Romanian enamel artist. “Mrs. Trivigno instructed me to work on one large pencil drawing for several weeks. All pencil strokes had to go in the same direction. What discipline that was. I was 15 years old and had no idea how valuable patience would prove to be.”
While living in New Orleans the Crews family would pack the car each Friday night and leave the formality of the old city for the farm life. An hour and a half drive would take them to Folsom, Louisiana to an old house with cats and dogs, cows and chickens, ducks and horses, quilts and barns. The family gathered eggs, rode horses, herded cattle, and rode in a jeep learning about rural agricultural life. Having lived in so many different cities this is the home Rommel holds dear; there was tranquility, love, friends, and family.
The old television set at “the farm” had poor reception so Rommel and her sister would pass time by creating art exhibits for their parents to view on Saturday evenings. Drawings were created throughout the day, leis were sewn with Tung tree blossoms, and the bedroom walls were transformed into a gallery.
Rommel graduated with a B.F.A. in Studio Art with an emphasis in Communication Design from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville after two years at the University of Texas in Austin. This prepared her for a career in advertising and public relations while she moved with her family throughout Texas and to Florida.
All of this time she continued painting and taking commissions. An old friend in San Antonio decided to end her own foray into painting and gifted her brightly colored acrylics to Rommel. This dramatically changed the palette she had been using. New hues of pink, green, and blue moved into the paint box nudging out the brown and more somber tones.
With small children at home she developed an interest in children’s literature and illustration. As a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) she wrote and illustrated her own stories for young readers. Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School, a rhyming story, for the youngest reader.
Rommel’s sense of joy and playfulness has been evident in her painting at all times.
While living in Florida she painted flying people in patterned clothing watching the world below. Often evident in the scenery was a bit of a farm: a barn, cows grazing, or plowed fields. Time spent in the western United States, where her parents were raised, taught Rommel about American Indian culture and folk tales. There are references to this throughout her work: storyteller figures, purple mountains, western flowers. The detailed patterns in these earlier works comes from her love of Oriental rugs, wallpapers, and fashion design.
Rommel’s painting career has incorporated the use of oils and acrylics and in 2015 a sojourn into watercolors.
“Each material is special and offers different qualities. I had never taken the time to learn how to use watercolors so I set out to paint with them every day for 100 days. The exercise was so enjoyable I continued to day 156.” Most paintings were sold as they were completed.
Inspired by the routine Rommel completed a 30-day series of guardians.
After the passing of her mother in early 2016 Rommel was in a serious car accident where her car was forced off the highway by a large truck. The car flipped back over front leaving her and her husband trapped in their now battered Subaru on a Memorial Day in Satsuma, Louisiana. With a broken sternum and ribs, and time to think, Rommel thought through her options. She chose a series based on photos of family from the 1930-40s.
While creating this series Rommel began experimenting with new techniques that combined the chalk-like flat appearance of latex paint with the boldness of acrylics. Layering the two brought a nice depth of color. Adding pastels and charcoal defined shapes without heaviness. This last layer was wonderful for experimentation in line placement.
Presently Rommel is exploring collage. Using hand painted paper she has created and ephemera of old newspapers, notebooks, and books to make her designs unique. A collection of collaged still lives hang in galleries now as well as sell as prints. A commission to illustrate a children’s book on adoption is nearing completion.
More is happening in the studio in this crazy summer of 2020. There is a new collection of collages in the works to be exhibited in November at High Country Art in Blue Ridge, GA along with a demonstration on Saturday, November 21.
art in situ
When my depiction of something can bring strong emotion I feel such gratitude. The mystery of what transpires between my hand and my head has worked. To communicate with a viewer is a gift from God.
My art is a remembrance of the people, animals and places in my personal visual dictionary. I have been blessed to see so much variety, beauty and wonder in my life.
I have been fortunate to have wonderful art instructors and professors who encouraged my choices of subject matter and taught the fun of painting. Some of them were Lynn Whipple with her joyful creation of artwork and Carl Sublett with his eye and European trained hand for landscape and color. The instruction I had at an earlier age taught me to really look and see and to notice detail everywhere.
How could I not include that summation in my artist statement?
Studied at University of Texas, Austin: Studio Art
Graduated from University of Tennessee, Knoxville with B.F.A. in Studio Art
Attended further classes and workshops with Carl Embrey at San Antonio Art Institute,
Portrait classwork: Dallas,
Crealde School: Winter Park, FL,
Callanwolde: Atlanta, GA,
on line studies with Carla Sonheim, Lynn Whipple, Cat Bennett
Exhibitions and Publications
|2019 to present||Wild Oats and Billy Goats||Gallery artist – Decatur, GA|
|2017 to present||High Country Art||Gallery artist – Blue Ridge, GA|
|2017 Publication||Brookhaven Buzz, |
|2015 to present||Pea Ridge Kitchen||One woman exhibition ongoing|
|2013||Oregon Shakespeare Festival||Director portraits “My English Breath..”|
|2012||Emory University Quadrangle Magazine||Features World Shakespeare Project portraits of co-directors|
|2012||Spring Mingle SCBWI||First place illustration competition|
|2011||Swan Coach House Gallery, Atlanta, GA||Little Things Mean A Lot|
|2011||Pour for Prevention, Sacramento, CA||Exhibit raising awareness of child abuse|
|2011||Billboard Art Project, Savannah, GA||Paintings exhibited in 24 hour event|
|2011||Pomfret Center, CT||Dynamic Duo Collaboration with artist MK Shaw|
|2010||Gallery at Avalon Island Juried Show||Award of Merit|
|2010||Artistree Co-op, Orlando, FL||One woman show, artist of the month|
|2010||Casselberry Art House Seminole County||Featured artist of the month|
|2009||Gallery at Avalon Island Award of Merit||Artists Registry.com juried show|
|2009||Trinity Preparatory School, |
Winter Park, FL
|Juried Art Bazaar, also in 2010|
|2009||Art House Co-op, |
|Sketchbook Project, traveling exhibit|
|2009||Gallery on First, |
|Studio and gallery artist|
|2009||Gallery on First, |
|Hot Summer Nights group show|
|Orlando Museum of Art boutique: Rojo and Women in Art juried exhibits|
|1996||Muse Interiors, Colleyville, TX||Featured artist: Decorator Showhouse 1996|
|1996||HEB,TX Arts Organization||Winner 3 dimensional art award|
Mr. and Mrs. S. Shackelford: N.Y., New York
Mr. and Mrs. D. Higgins: Calgary, Alberta
Ms. A. McSweeney: Davis, CA
Mr. and Mrs. H. DeHart: Chattanooga, TN.
Mr. and Mrs. J. Johnson: St. Simon’s Island, GA
Mr. and Mrs. D. Johnson: Whitefish , MT
Mr. and Mrs. W.N. Rives: Columbus, OH
Mrs. C. Lowe: San Antonio, TX
Private Collectors Atlanta, GA, Decatur, GA, Maitland, FL, Washington, D.C., Houston, TX
Stride Ahead Equine Therapy Decatur, GA
Decatur Art Festival
Trinity Preparatory School
Fort Worth Christian School
Morse Museum of Art
Orlando Museum of Art