About the Artist
Dena Tollefson (nee Dena Schaefer), born 1965, is a full-time, professional artist.
Tollefson is represented in galleries nationally in New Mexico, California, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
Her “Daubism” body of work is a unique process she developed, where “daubs” of individually mixed paint are applied with a palette knife. The largest marks are applied with a serving spoon, allowing ridges of paint which catch the light and appear to dance and scintillate as the viewer moves past the painting. Tollefson’s work focuses on botanicals, ponds, skies, and her Corn Series of work, biographies where people are depicted as ears of corn. Her work is highly tactile.
Tollefson graduated from Iowa State University in 1988 and lived in Dallas Texas before returning to Iowa in 1991 where she developed her unique, highly textured painting style. She lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with her husband and family.
Adelman Fine Art is pleased to represent Dena Tollefson and share her talent with collectors worldwide.
AFA: Which decade do you love the most and why?
DT: “I’m all about the 80’s. The music. The big hair. The shoulder pads. I graduated high school in 1984, then graduated college and got married to my wonderful husband of 30 years and counting, Bill in 1988, so the 80’s have a ton of meaning for me. I listen to the 80’s channel when in the car and sing along to all the songs, especially the ballads. I am not known for my singing voice, but it does not matter in the car.”
AFA: You’re going to sail around the world…what’s the name of your boat?
DT: “The Palette Knife”
AFA: What color of paint are you?
DT: “Hmmm, that’s a tough question as it is hard to narrow it down. Top thoughts are Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, and Leaf Green. I am going to go with Alizarin Crimson as it can be mixed with white to make myriad variations of soft and friendly pinks or stand on its own as a bold, transparent red.”
AFA: With what animal do you most identify?
DT: “A lap dog. I like creature comforts and when I go outside, no scary animals should be out there. A lap dog always has a nice human around, a comfy warm bed and some yummy foods.”
AFA: Have you ever met your idol or someone you revere greatly?
DT: “I did speak with artist Rose Franzen, a fellow Iowa artist, at several art events and I had always admired her nuanced use of color. Watching her paint a portrait in person was a real treat.”
AFA: What do you most want your audience to experience when viewing your art?
DT: “I want my audience to experience a feeling of joy and calm when they view my work. When I am painting, I am conscious of the feelings I have in the moment and am trying to convey and project love and vitality and peace on to the canvas. My greatest goal is someone experiences a sense of healing and love when they put my work in their environment.”
AFA: When did you start using the spoon method and how is it different from the palette knife?
DT: “I developed a painting technique called ‘Daubism’ in the year 2000. I had been experimenting with methods to add smooth, shiny marks of paint on the canvas and gallery director Stan Wiederspan and I were discussing what to call this new method. He suggested ‘Daubism’ for the thick daubs of paint applied with a spoon or palette knives. It is a hybrid between low relief sculpture, mosaic, and traditional painting. I love Pointillism’s idea of placing colors next to one another which are not blended. Daubism can be thought of as a type of 3-D Pointillism. Both Daubism and Pointillism technically fall under the art term umbrella of Divisionism, which is defined as colors placed next to each other which are not blended together. The spoon is not flexible the way the palette knife is and it leaves a pleasing form on the canvas not achievable with other tools.”
AFA: Tell us about your success in the ASMR YouTube community.
DT: “I love the ASMR community! People are stressed out and looking for chemical free, natural ways to relax and watching painting videos is one of these ways to unwind and sleep. I have a naturally soft voice and I have to work hard to project it. When I am painting alone in my studio, I am so focused on the work it and not focused on speaking. So when I narrate while painting, my voice can sound like a whisper. I thought it was a negative when first creating videos about my work. My child John said there is a whole movement out there who is stressed and wants to relax to gentle sounds. John encouraged me to tap into the ASMR market. I have met so many nice people though this awesome community. In addition to the ASMR community, through YouTube I have met great artist friends, collectors, and other supporters who I cherish.”
AFA: What other impasto painters inspire you?
DT: “For contemporary artists, Iris Scott and Misun Holdorf, both of whom you also represent here at Adelman Fine Art are an inspiration. Vincent Van Gogh is a huge inspiration for me- he dragged his brush through the paint in a way that created such evocative texture and movement. Willem de Kooning created such emotion on the canvas with his impasto work.”
AFA: What type of content will you be focusing on in 2019?
DT: “I plan to focus on more Pond Series, Sky Series, and florals in 2019. I am thinking about also trying a new series on animals moving about – cats, dogs, birds, and fishes. I have done some birds, fishes, and dogs in the past but have not ever painted a cat. 2019 may be the year.”
“I am a Colorist and am known for contemporary realism focusing on botanicals and landscapes, especially ponds, flowers and skies. My sky paintings are my idea of how God created Earth with one breath. Every morning and every evening He creates a new sky for us.
I employ vigorous brushwork and texture through the palette knife in my work so that people may experience along with me the “feel” of the painting. I find mosaics fascinating how the individual pieces all contribute to the whole. I want my paintings to have a similar idea where overlapping petals of paint all stand on their own and then contribute to the total in a experience somewhere between sculpture and paint.
My work known as “Daubism” is created using a palette knife where each stroke of color is isolated from the others. Most paintings will have hundreds of different colors, these colors are all individually hand-mixed from a limited set of colors creating unique colors which relate to one another. I am striving for a sensual, tactile surface in paint.
I am always excited when someone connects with my artwork. I am delighted to share a vision of color and beauty with my collectors” ~ Dena Tollefson