1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Onna Voellmer. I am a mixed media artist living and working in southern Arizona. I am originally from Washington State, but I’ve traveled all over the U.S, and many countries abroad. I am also a long distance hiker with more than 6000 miles under me feet. Walking in nature is my preferred way to see the world, up close, visually and physically, with every moment.
2. How did you get your start?
Art is how I learned to communicate, starting at a very early age. My mother was an artist and as soon as I could sit up on my own she would set me beside her while she painted, me with crayons and markers and her with oil paints. I have experimented with a lot of media over the years, and still do, but I’m primarily a painter, preferring to work on large-scale canvases.
In my mid twenties I decided to go to art school, receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and sculpture in 2000. But it wasn’t until 2013 that I made the jump to being a full time artist. It has been quite the journey and I am excited to see where it all leads.
3. What inspires you?
Nature is my greatest inspiration. When I’m not working in the studio, my spare time is spent climbing mountains and hiking. My greatest inspiration has come from hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, The Continental Divide Trail, and The Arizona Trail. Spending months of my life living and sleeping in the wilds is an experience like no other. It changes you in ways that are difficult to put into words, but you feel more connected: to everything. It is empowering and inspiring. When I am away from my studio hiking, I engage my creativity with photography and short stories about the hike so that I can share the experience and inspiration with others. I publish these stories on my art blog.
When I’m walking the wilds and climbing mountains, I am always taking mental notes on colors, textures, and the physical experience of the moment …what it feels like, the movement of plants in the wind, the sounds. I am building a more extensive visual vocabulary as an artist that I can then bring back to the studio and to my work. Colors and textures are important elements, but I think it is the physical experience of being in nature that brings the movement and flow to my work and makes it unique. I have been told that my paintings “dance” or “move”.
4. What do you like about AZ?
There are so many things I love about Arizona, from its varied biomes to its culture. It is a long list. The food culture here is world class, especially the food culture here in southern Arizona that focuses on local and traditional food. It has all been a very rewarding experience here for me …the people, the art, the natural environment. I love Arizona’s sunsets and its storms. I love watching the lizards do their thing, the migration of the birds, seeing strange animals I’ve never seen anywhere else. I love the cholla and the saguaros, the taste of prickly pear fruit, and all the insects that change with the seasons. I like experiencing the rhythm of living here, from the snow birds to the hot June months.
5. Where can we see you(r) work?
You can view galleries of my work, as well as links to my online store, my blog, upcoming exhibitions, and other information on my website here.
I post about my process, inspiration, and new work daily on Instagram here.
6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?
Ultimately, my goal is to continue to grow as an artist and to share my work with others, locally, nationally, and internationally. Art aside, there is a long list of mountains I would like to climb and trails I want to hike.
7. What is your mantra?
Our actions, our intentions, our motives ripple outward… Ideas live, they feed, they grow. Make them good ones. What we put out becomes our reality. Peace, Beauty, Love!!! Together we can build the world we want to live in…