Up Close & Personal Art










Up Close and Personal Art
Rachel Archer shows us her “Hard Edge” style
Story and Photos by: Carla Edstrom
My dad’s parents were farmers when they immigrated to Illinois from Sweden, but dad liked working on the farm trucks more than working the land. He could fix anything, and that gift filtered down to his 4 sons. My brothers all took after dad and were all into their cars at one time or another.

Being the a certified Tomboy, I spent a lot of time as a child helping my older brother Chuck work on his ’71 Mustang that he restored and going to junkyards with him looking for parts. Or quite possibly I was just bugging him, but in any sense, that is where I picked up my love for classic cars. I’m pretty sure his greatest passion in life as a young man was working on that car. And I thought my brother was pretty cool. Still do, actually.
Oak Island artist Rachel Archer and I have a kindred spirit about abandoned things including old cars. Archer often uses them as inspiration for her work. She used a photo she took of an old car in a junkyard for her latest masterpiece, which features a 1961 Impala. “I bought this gigantic canvas and I had to figure out what deserved such a significant size,” she explained. “I went through my photographs and found the Impala again and just thought, ‘Oh, that’s it! That one is special.’”
“I have always had an affinity for broken down things,” she said. “I am constantly scanning the side of the road for abandoned homes, barns that are falling down, old rusty cars, etc. I think there’s something about modern things that just feel plastic to me,” she said. “I don’t feel the humanity in them. That’s not true of the old homes and cars. They’re individuals. I like that about them. And it might sound silly, but there’s something about the broken homes and rusty cars that speaks to me and pulls at me,” she said. “They were once beautiful things, integral parts of peoples lives, and now they sit all alone just falling apart and lonely. So, I go and visit them. I take their pictures, give them new lives and make them lovely again.”
When I first saw her painting of the Impala, I honestly thought it was a photograph. The devil is in the details to say the least! She told me she has spent over 250 hours on perfecting the acrylic painting, getting every color exact and every blade of grass the perfect shade of green. Being Facebook friends, I have been excited to watch this painting’s amazing daily transformations.
According to Archer, her latest work is close to a “hard-edge” style of painting, which the Oxford dictionary describes as “relating to a style of abstract painting characterized by geometric shapes with sharply defined edges and often in bright colors.” Since her painting style doesn’t quite fit into that box, she calls her work Hard Edge Realism. “There is no mixing of paint on the canvas, so there is a distinct line between each color, “ said Archer. She has definitely made the style her own with her work, ’61 Sorbet, and Davey Jones Looker, which any true David Bowie fan will tell you is wonderful tribute to the late musician’s unique eyes.
Although Archer went to Art Institute of Pittsburg and received an Associates Degree in Specialized Technology, she soon realized that working at a computer and not actually hand on painting was not for her. So she followed her heart and took brush to hand. Although she doesn’t work in Graphic Design, the skills she learned come into play with her creative process. And it all starts with a photograph. “I take that photograph into Photoshop and run it through a couple filters,” she explains. “This allows me to separate the colors. I then add a grid over that image. After that’s done, I move to the canvas, and draw a corresponding grid there. Then, it’s just a matter of drawing what’s in each box on the image into the corresponding box on the canvas. Painting starts after that. I decide which color I’m going to work on and mix that one color. Then, I look at my reference photo and sort of play “Where’s Waldo” trying to find all the spots where it belongs. It’s essentially a paint by number without the numbers.” With her mad skills at perfection, I absolutely cannot wait to see her next creation and watch it come to life.
Archer, her husband James and their family have made Oak Island their home for the past couple years. When she is not painting or drawing, she is making wire wrapped jewelry or drawing with pencils. You can find her work on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/BowsOnArrows . You can also email her directly at racheldidit@icloud.com .

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