Rachael Van Dyke is a full-time artist creating abstract landscape and figurative work inspired by living off the grid in the Blue Ridge mountains and traveling abroad. Van Dyke is an avid artist-in-residence and has participated in national and international residencies. These residencies create new boundaries for her work and encourage an alteration of technique and expression. These boundaries also create stimulation as she is forced to understand and come to terms with her limitations. Being open to a new color palette or a new visual language to express the land and culture is necessary. Rachael chooses to explore the region through hiking or bicycling, visiting museums and historic sites, and trying her hand at engaging with local residents. Each body of work is influenced by place and tells a story of the people and land that she’s encountered.
Growing up in a large Italian family where emotions and energy were high, I learned early on to create quickly, to work collaboratively, and to not become too attached to my work. I was quick to design, problem-solve, and create. This childhood dynamic created in me a need to work very quickly and intensely. I want my materials to be bold and move fast with me. I find myself on my hands and knees actively engaged with the painting; laying, standing or walking across its surface. Most often my work begins with child-like marks; a free expression of movement without a composition or subject in mind. I paint without judgement and allow my critical eye to participate when I finally step back. A narrative often runs in my head, though as in life, I know it is necessary for that narrative to change. The canvas rotates. From a still life emerges a horse and rider. From a landscape steps forth a figure. Though it is easy to become attached to a dynamic mark or a precious area I allow the narrative to shift, the layers to transform. I have come to respect each layer, to let them be revealed; for the richness of life comes from every remarkable, sorrowful and mundane moment. Sacred does not mean permanent, and so the narrative is transfigured, the working title in my mind begins to tell another story.