All posts by Mandi Antonucci

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Mandi Antonucci

I stumbled across a quote by Henry Adams a few weeks back that struck me as indicative to my approach to art making. Adams said, “Chaos was the law of nature; order was the dream of man.” This precarious point between the two extremes is where I like my work to dwell.  

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While I will occasionally work in ballpoint pen and oils, my true love is colored pencils. I love the range they provide from soft layered colors to sharp bold edges. I love the simple buttery depth they can create and the complex layers of color mixing they enable. I love that despite my years I have put into the medium, I still learn something new about them each time I draw, like an old friend divulging new secrets.

My greatest expense and favorite obsession is trying out different brands, and experimenting with using them together. My favorite combination is using the Caran d’Ache Luminance with the Prismacolor Premier. The Luminance can pack a punch with their ability to layer, maintain color integrity, and won’t wax bloom like the Prismacolors. Yet, the Prismas have such a wide range of colors and play very nicely with other brands.  

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I often start a piece without any clear direction. I’ll be intrigued with an object, the way someone is holding their hands, or a conversation, and I will start with a rough sketch, working my way slowly to the final product. I don’t necessarily have a clear concept of the symbolism in my work until I have put more hours into it, like it’s a new friend I’m getting to know.

I often like to work alongside my kids; they provide good company and funny title ideas.

I often like to work alongside my kids; they provide good company and funny title ideas.

Nearly all of my work deals with the contradictions found within the human condition. I strive to find meanings and marriage between the two opposing forces that push our physical and emotional boundaries from one extreme to the other. In the past, I have primarily worked with the human form in some way, creating a visual commentary on the precarious emotional space in which we sometimes dwell.

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See No Evil

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Flight Plan

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Disconnect 4

For the past few months I have been making a slight change of direction from mental space to physical space. I am interested in how we interact with the space in our homes; the ways in which we fill the space, the complicated relationship we may have with the objects we keep, and the ways in which our emotions and memories for a space can change due to the external forces that dwell within our walls.

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Beneath

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My work often includes patterns as both a stylistic and symbolic choice. Patterns can be both predictable and improbable, stable and changing. We search for patterns to make sense of the world around us, they allow us to make familiar predictions, and interpret the connectivity between points. Patterns can provide reassurance in unknown situations, yet they can also create confusion at their break down. This point between familiarity and confusion is where I like my work to inhabit.

You can follow my work on Instagram @skywardagain or on my website, mandiantonucci.com


Mandi Antonucci is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Mandi Antonucci

I like to think of myself as a crafter of visual stories.  I attempt to create drawings that provide more questions than answers, more ambiguity than certainty.  My intention is to leave the viewer with an open ended narrative that allows one to fill in the blanks from their own personal experiences.  

"Swarm"

“Swarm”

I grew up in Syracuse, New York with an unconventional family that instilled in me an appreciation for bird watching, collecting antique typewriters, and art.  My relationship with art was formed inside the walls of the Everson Museum where my grandfather served on the Board of Directors, and by watching my grandmother create ornate pieces with needlepoint.  These two factors served to inspire my great love for art history and attention to detail.  

"Family Tree"

“Family Tree”

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Studio in Art and Art History from Nazareth College, and my Masters in Art Education from Rochester Institute of Technology.  For the past 13 years, I have been an Art Teacher at Batavia High School.  I love my job.  It’s a unique opportunity that enables me to be constantly in the company of other artists.  I love the give and take of ideas, and the constant progression of concepts and materials that come with being an educator.  My students keep me on my toes, pushing me with their talent and insight to become a better artist while I help them to find their own artistic voice.  Nearly everyday, they give me hope for the next generation of creative thinkers.

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I like to invite my students into my creative process.  Aside from talking through my concepts and symbolism, many of them have become my subjects for my portraits.  They never seem to mind when I ask them to make weird faces or pose in a certain way.

"Queen of Crows"

“Queen of Crows”

My work as a whole is best described as Pop Surrealism, though I try my best not to label myself too strictly as I don’t want the identification to become a limitation.  While I will use a variety of materials, I generally use mostly colored pencil and graphite.  I love the control and versatility of my colored pencils; I love the feel of a sharp pencil and the look of a sharp edge. However, I also love the way in which colored pencil allows me to build subtle layers, like a recipe for the perfect color.

I generally don’t have a finished concept in my mind when I start a piece.  Rather, I like to start with a story in mind, or a picture I have taken, and let the creative process dictate my direction.  My best ideas come from the act of making, so it’s not uncommon for me to have five or six drawings in various states of completion as I work.

In progress

In progress

My work explores the themes of mental illness, loss, and the fragility of life.  I like to think of my drawings as a visual memoir of the struggles and achievements of myself and the others I share my life with.   My drawings often include the human form in some way, whether it’s with portraits or hands.  I am drawn to the automatic sense of emotion that comes with portraying the human form.  I want my work to tell a symbolic story of the strength of the individual while still leaving the details to the interpretation of the observer. My drawings attempt to show the vulnerability of my subject, their precarious and fantastical reality, and the effects their mental state has made in their lives.  

"The Future is Female"

“The Future is Female”

I tend to use a lot of pattern in my work as a design and symbolic element.  I am particularly drawn to the honeycomb pattern because it stands as a reminder that beauty can be born from chaos.  I feel like I’m just scratching the surface as to where I am headed in terms of my use of pattern; I’m excited to see where the process will take me.

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"Daydream Believer"

“Daydream Believer”

When I’m not at school or in my studio, I can be found at home in Geneseo with my husband and two children, surrounded by cornfields and distant horizon lines.  

"Boy Wonder"

“Boy Wonder”

My work can be found at www.mandiantonucci.com or on Instagram @skywardagain


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Mandi’s work in our current exhibition “Utopia/Dystopia” (juried by John Massier, curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, NY). The exhibition runs through June 30, 2017. Mandi’s piece, “Boy Wonder”, is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com