Sunlight casts through the windows in the art building, drawing long shadows across a color filled canvas. Stroke by stroke, April Abbott fills the void, paying close attention to detail and color choice.
“The striking and graphicness of a pattern and mixing it in with something that is more organic is something that strikes me as interesting,” Abbott said. “I like mixing things that don’t seem like they should work.”
Abbott is an art education major at Humboldt State, who is also minoring in English. Born in southern California, her family moved to Humboldt when she was 9. Art has played a big role in her life since she was a child.
“I’ve been using watercolors and acrylics since I was a little girl,” Abbott said. “My grandma taught me how to do it when I was like 4 or 5.”
Abbott’s preferred medium are oil paints after shifting from digital art a few years ago. Her first piece of art that she is proud of is a digital piece where she took photos, found a pattern that she liked and layered them on top of each other. However, oil painting is where she said she found herself. Her influences come from the beauty in the simplicity. Everyday things such as shapes and unique colors play a role in her art, as well as what she sees on Instagram. A connecting theme across most of her pieces are patterns and bright colors.
“There is something obnoxiously pretty about bright colors and I dig it,” Abbott said.
One of Abbott’s pieces is currently on display in the Art B Building at Humboldt State. Hanging in the hallway on the first floor is a painting of a woman with green and yellow pixelated hair. Pop culture and collage influences jump out right away with the visual aesthetics of flowers that follow.
“I was definitely playing off of that 50s-pop culture-y thing,” Abbott said.
The piece is untitled, like most of her work. If there is any sort of art Abbott tries to avoid, it is realism. She said that she doesn’t dislike it, but whenever she tries to paint it she turns it into something abstract. Teresa Stanley, one of Abbott’s professors, described her work as “strange and dream-like” and bordering on surrealism.
“She loves juxtaposing flat patterns against things that are more rendered, creating unexpected effects,” Stanley said. “She paints her flawless patterns in oil which is extremely difficult to do.”
Abbott’s studies at HSU have also brought her under the guidance of Dr. Jim Woglom. Woglom received a Ph. D in art education from the University of Georgia in 2014 and is currently an assistant professor.
“April is an incredible student and positive,” Woglom said. “She’s committed to bringing art to other students.”
Woglom said that the work Abbott does in his class focuses on producing public art and developing future lesson plans. Some of the public art they have made in his class has gone towards fundraising for English language classes for adults in the greater community. Abbott’s positivity and kindness has also extended to her classmates. Amanda Feathers is a senior also majoring in Art Education. Abbott and Feathers met at the beginning of the fall 2018 semester, when Feathers first moved to Humboldt from Chico.
“April is the most welcoming and warm person I’ve ever met,” Feathers said. “She is really sweet and caring.”
Feathers said that Abbott’s art is intricate and “some of the most painstakingly detailed” she has seen. Amethyst Shelton is also a friend of Abbott’s; having met her when they attended high school at Arcata High.
“April is one of the most driven people I know,” Shelton said. “She’s a sweetheart to almost everyone and has a lot of patience.”
That patience shows in Abbott’s art. The patterns that transpire across her work are visually pleasing and impressive; allowing the eyes to find a sequence and resting point from the bright colors.
“I just do what I think looks good and it usually ends up working out,” Abbott said.
Once she acquires a wider collection of pieces she plans to showcase them. But for now, she is focused on her studies. Abbott said she wants to continue a career in art, bringing it to the public at large.
“I want to show that there is a lot of importance in [art],” Abbott said. “And that even though there are people who aren’t ‘artistic,’ they can still find an appreciation for it.”
View more of April’s work here