Poppy Dodge, an abstract painter, has established her creative base in Petaluma, California. As a self-proclaimed “color maximalist,” she thrives on the art of crafting harmony and equilibrium through the full spectrum of colors. Her artistic exploration delves deep into the world of stacking colors and shapes, influenced by the aesthetics of modern quilting and abstract collage.
Poppy’s artistic journey began with her graduation from California State University East Bay in 2003, where she obtained her BFA with a particular emphasis on painting and drawing. Post-graduation, she embarked on her professional journey in art education and studio art, setting up her creative roots in Los Angeles.
In 2013, an opportunity of a lifetime presented itself as Poppy and her family embarked on a transformative move to Wellington, New Zealand. The experience of living by the sea reinvigorated her artistic perspective, guiding her work from playful narratives to vividly colored abstracts. Following five enriching years abroad, Poppy and her family returned to their Northern California home in 2018.
Her artistic prowess has garnered recognition, with Poppy being featured as the cover artist for UPPERCASE magazine in its Fall 2021 issue, themed around quilting inspiration. Additionally, she earned a spot in the prestigious LA Times Holiday Gift Guide in November 2021.
Poppy’s art has found its place in both private and public collections worldwide. Today, you can often find Poppy engrossed in her art in her home studio, sharing her passion for creativity as she teaches elementary school art, and finding daily inspiration during her walks and hikes through the picturesque landscapes of Sonoma County.
Artrepreneur: What role does experimentation play in your artistic process?
Poppy Dodge: Experimenting is a huge part of my creative process. My favorite expression in the studio is “What if…” What if I added mixed media to the painting? What if I collage old artwork of my Mom’s with my current work? What if I make a painting a day for 100 days? Little and big “what if’s” add up to making work that excites me. I participate in Instagram’s 100 Day Challenge every year, always with a new experiment to dive into. From creating colorful collages, to playing with recycled cardboard, to “Color Building” with repurposed wood scraps, all these experiments lend their lessons to eventual paintings and new series’ that fuel me creatively.
ATP: How has your artistic style evolved over time? What factors or experiences influenced these changes?
PD: Absolutely! I began painting 25 years ago, painting people and portraits. My mother was a working artist who painted people and I think I thought that was what paintings were supposed to be. The more I painted, and as I began studying art history, my art started to evolve. A major break through for my abstract work as moving to New Zealand and living on the coast ten years ago. The ever changing sky and sea were like abstract paintings in themselves and I began making loose, gestural, expressive paintings. They were as energetic as my environment! I called them Color Bombs. Layers and layers of color poured out of me. We moved back to the US five years ago and my work has become geometric and grid like. I call these Color Stacks. Since moving back to the States, I have been very interested in quilting, and you can see that in these new compositions. Although my work has always had color as it’s common denominator, the grouping and stacking of shapes has really commanded my attention and focus.
ATP: Can you describe the role of intuition in your creative process? How much do you rely on instinct versus planning when creating a painting?
PD: I am 100% an intuitive painter. I rarely know what I am going to paint when I start my day. I create a fresh palette daily filled with color with tons of room to mix even more. Depending on the light, the season, the music, what I am listening (audio book or podcast)– the colors and composition takes shape. My work is all about layers- the first few are just exploring color, line, texture and shape. No judgements happen in these layers, only intuition. Once I feel the painting is forming a direction or a voice, I will start honing in and finding the pieces that will be the eventual composition of the painting. I love this part of the process!
Looking ahead, what are some new directions or experiments you hope to explore in your future artwork?
As much as I love painting, I am very excited about learning more about wood working. Since my abstract wood studies with the 100 Day Project in 2023, I am so curious to learn more about power tools and varieties in wood. I have always been so intrigued and drawn to sculpture and feel deep down this is a natural progression for my work. The idea of playing with color in 3D just feels so inspiring and FUN. There is a woodshop here in Sonoma that holds a variety of classes and seminars and I see myself learning a lot from them in 2024!
ATP: Can you describe the significance of color in your work and how you approach color choices?
PD: My work centers on exploring the relationship between colors– how they live and breathe next to each other and ultimately, how those dynamics make the viewer, including myself, feel. We all perceive color differently. How I react to certain color combinations will not necessarily be how you respond. That fascinates me. My color choices are derived from my personal “color memories” and life experiences and are a central part of my work and the optimistic energy it conveys. For example, I see my childhood in the Sonoran desert with my love of warm, muddy pinks, my time studying abroad in Spain in my bright blues, golden rod reflects the rolling hills surrounding me and my years living in Sonoma County, and deep greens sneak in reminding me of my very favorite place in the world, New Zealand. Special momentos collected from my travels also inspire me- like my Otomi tapestry from my travels in Mexico. Surrounding myself with these colors brings me a deep sense of place in this very big world.
ATP: Are there any specific features or resources on artrepreneur.com that have been particularly valuable in advancing your artistic goals?
PD: There are a lot of features I really like about Artreprenuer. I appreciate all the Calls for Art and opportunities they constantly build for their artists. They really create so many ways to get involved. This is a great way to get comfortable submitting your work out in the world. I also love learning their art business tips and advice on their Art Forum. Getting valuable tips like learning how to market your work through Pintrest is super interesting! And, of course, I really like how they feature their artists on social media as well.
ATP: Have you found the platform to be effective in connecting you with opportunities, promoting your work, or expanding your network within the art community?
PD: I am new to Artreprenuer but have been lucky to be a part of the group show “And We’re Back!” curated by Artreprenuer. It’s my first time showing my work in New York City and feels really exciting to be a part of show with so many artists from around the world. It’s been a great way to connect with new artists.
To view more of Poppy’s work please visit her Artrepreneur profile.