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Abstract Art Becomes Life's Work

Farmington Hills artist Jeri Fellwock discovered abstract art over 20 years ago and hasn't stopped creating it.

Jerri Fellwock can’t imagine life without a daily dose of art. 

“Art brings everything to me,” said Fellwock.  “When I’m not feeling well, or when I’m tired, I go to the studio and I’m suddenly not tired anymore.  I engross myself in my paintings and that’s all I’m thinking about.”

Fellwock, 73, is an abstract artist who lives in Farmington Hills with her husband of 55 years. She discovered art in her early 40s, when her children were almost grown.  She took classes in watercolor, oil and acrylic painting at Oakland Community College and the Birmingham-Bloomfield Art Center (BBAC).

Fellwock first started with traditional landscapes and portraits. Eventually, she moved to abstract work.

“I never dreamed I could do abstract work,” Fellwock said.  “I credit the BBAC with leading me to it.” 

Fellwock found abstract more challenging, and more expressive. She starts with a blank canvass and allows the work to change and grow with the painting as she goes.

“With still life, you paint what’s in front of you,” she said. “With abstract, you paint what’s in your heart.”

Fellwock finds inspiration wherever she is.  She once came back from a long vacation with a suitcase full of 31 small paintings, one for each day she was away.  She packed just three colors and took time to paint daily with her limited materials.

“I found the landscapes so inspiring,” said Fellwock. “North Dakota had a plainness that was very even, and the farmland in Iowa had the most beautiful mustard color to it.”

Her grandchildren inspire her, too. When they were young, they spent many hours in her studio with her. Fellwock feels she’s learned from them as much as they have learned from her.

“I try to paint like a child,” she said. “They just paint. They don’t second-guess themselves. They think everything they do is beautiful.” 

Fellwock’s favorite piece, “Travel in Time,” is a collage that she made about five years ago. It was featured in a national show in New Mexico.

“I like it because it shows a lot of different things when your eye moves around it,” Fellwock said. "It’s got a lot of quiet parts to it, and it shows that I’m growing.”

Fellwock will never put down her paint brush for good.

“I’ll paint ‘til I drop,” she said.

Fellwock’s work has been featured at area galleries, including Lotus Arts Gallery in Plymouth and the now closed Sherrus Gallery of Fine Art in Northville. She is currently looking for a gallery to showcase her paintings. To see Fellwock’s work online, go to jerrifellwock.com

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