Updated: Jul 12, 2021
Audrey Tulimiero Welch, born in the USA, is an internationally exhibited painter who currently resides in Tacoma, Washington. Welch received her BFA from the University
of Delaware, and MFA from the Art Institute of Boston.
Her abstract layered paintings can be read as metaphoric ‘maps’ that contain in their embedded layers personal stories and lived relationships of daily life. From 2002-16, Welch lived and worked in countries of the Pacific Rim. This led her to explore the subjects of mapping and place as starting points for a painting. Similar to the way maps navigate
geographic destinations, she uses the pictorial language of line, gesture, color, and form to lead the viewer to ‘sites’ that are familiar and unknown, personal and universal.
Welch’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Bangkok, Indonesia, Germany, Singapore and Australia. Her paintings are included in numerous prestigious public and private collections, including GOOGLE, Ronald Mc Donald House, Perth, Western Australia, Hyatt Regency, Oman, Four Seasons Hotel, MGM, Saks Fifth Avenue. Museum exhibitions include: Tacoma Art Museum, Frauen Museum, Bonn, Germany; Bade Museum, Berkeley, California, Coos Bay Art Museum, Oregon, and the Museo Italo Americano in San Francisco. Publications include Fine Art Magazine, Architectural Digest, New American Paintings, San Francisco Chronicle, Fremantle Gazette, and SFMOMA Art News. The following galleries represent Welch’s work: Nancy Toomey Fine Art in San Francisco, Russo Lee Gallery, Portland and Robischon Gallery, Denver.
Looking back, I am struck that as a young art student I articulated what was to be a fundamental theme in my paintings for the next twenty-five years; namely: an investigation of external/internal. Early on, I recognized that I was as curious about the interior life as the external. The spiritual life and its development, has always held gravity for me, partly due to my family heritage and culture.
My use of the word ‘spiritual’ in relation to my abstract layered paintings refers specifically to the moments while painting that feel beyond myself. I am speaking about moments that present themselves while working that have no words; moments that I cannot control nor plan. Rather, the experience is like a door opens and I enter. I like to think that this space is similar to land marked on ancient maps as Terra incognita, ‘the unknown territory’. There are specific themes in my paintings that provide context and direction, subjects like mapping, place, home and exile; as well as, my need for systems or strategies of process. These contextual ideas function like geographic boundaries and structures that allow me to enter my work. And yet, I have also come to realize that the external subjects that I bring to my work are just a means to an end. Their function is more peripheral; they provide a way for
me to start a painting but the real magic only happens when my body engages with my materials, it is that dance that opens the door to unknown possibilities. The result is work that is bigger than me, that goes beyond the limitations of my mind and body. At times, the act of painting connects me with some deeper source, something ephemeral, beyond time, infinite and divine. It’s a paradox really, for the very concrete materials I use to paint: pigment, plaster and water, brush, tape, and canvas, all are materials of the earth; yet these materials transform and become conduits that allow me the painter to venture into the unknown territory of the soul.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in the arts.
I grew up in Livingston, New Jersey surrounded by a large Italian-American family. Although no one in my family had any fine arts training, my maternal grandfather was a skilled mason from Sicily. I think my attraction to work with plaster in my abstract layered paintings may come from early memories of my grandfather.
Leaving New Jersey in my mid-twenties, my husband, a geophysicist, and I, moved around a bit, first to California and then overseas to Indonesia, Thailand and Western Australia with our young family. The nomadic experience of living and moving overseas over a period of fifteen years shaped the subjects I would later investigate in my work, namely, place, maps
I earned my BFA from University of Delaware and MFA from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. In between degrees I studied briefly at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and took classes at the Art Students League in NYC. While in New York, I was invited to mentor with Russian painter, Marc Klionsky, in his Soho studio. Marc taught in an old-school
manner preferring I watch him work and speak very little. During our sessions he taught me about mixing oil mediums that replicated Rembrandt’s technique and on one occasion we traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to study Cezanne’s use of the color white. Looking back, I appreciate how foundational those experiences were in my formation as a painter. Although I felt the call in my youth to pursue painting, I assure you it has not always been clear and certainly it has not been a linear development. The road has been long and has required dogged determination.
What kind of work are you currently making?
In the studio, I am developing new work for an upcoming solo exhibition in October 2021 at the Russo Lee Gallery in Portland. So far, themes that are driving this work include: the city of Damascus, Rumi’s poetry, and “veriditas”. The city of Damascus was selected because it has meaning for me personally due to my own nomadic experience. Also, I was moved by my own state of despair as I witnessed from afar the diaspora of the Syrian refugees. I felt
compelled to look at maps that depicted the routes walked as they sought shelter in neighboring Nigeria. Working with these maps triggered my own experience of being a foreigner, of being exiled. Furthermore, I am incorporating these maps into my painting’s surface as an empathetic gesture of kinship. Through painting I am attempting to feel their tragic story, to somehow create a space for their suffering and connect with empathy to their despair. I want to address, in a very insufficient way, the question: What is the role of suffering? I want to face their suffering (and probably my own) and then surround it with life, with the greening of veriditas, and with hope. I am motivated to paint the healing, the potential for transformation.
Reading the poems of Rumi before I begin painting helps to create an atmosphere and tone of poetic mystery and a sense of the Divine, a mood that I am trying to capture in this series.
In contrast to the despair of Damascus is the theme of hope that “veriditas” represents. It does not point to an external geographic place, instead it describes a more interior phenomena of “greening” with attributes like vitality and lushness, spiritual and physical health. Although these worthy subjects drive the work, their remnants may not be visible to the viewer in the final work. Damascus, maps, refugees, and veriditas are ideas that propel me into the making, their function is to help me land in my work, and once I land the painting takes over.
What is a day like in the studio for you?
I like rituals. Once I arrive at the studio (located in an iconic 1925 Odd Fellows Lodge in downtown Tacoma) I immediately change into my ‘paint’ clothes and then walk over to my window where on a clear day I have a partial view of Mt. Rainier. I take in the view, light a candle and maybe some incense and pause to utter a simple prayer of gratitude. (Some days just making it to the studio is a major accomplishment)! Then I am ready to dive in. I usually have three to four paintings going at the same time all in various stages of completion. Typically, I decide on a palette that I will use throughout a group of 10-12 paintings. I mix all my color ahead of time in various containers. Then I am ready to pour paint, sometimes dumping large quantities of translucent acrylics across surfaces of canvas laid out on the floor and sometimes I squish and move paint with trowels and brushes, tilting
the canvases to allow rivulets of runny paint to flow along the canvas. I like working large and the feel of my entire body moving like a dance around my canvases. Part of my process involves the slower and more methodical taping of linear elements on the canvas, other times I am covering large areas that have been painted and masked with a final layer of plaster mixed with acrylic emulsion. At the end of my process comes the thrill of digging through the plaster, tape, and paint, only then do I see the final results. In addition to working in the studio, I set aside time each month to mentor artists. For the past two years I have offered a limited number of spots to mentor motivated artists who want to move their work to the next level. I love these sessions and the opportunity they provide to connect with fellow artists. I will have a few spots opening up soon, so if any of your followers might be
interested in learning more about my mentoring sessions please reach out to
What are you looking at right now and/or reading?
Recently, I had the good fortune to get into NYC to tramp around some favorite galleries and museums. Highlights include: Julie Mehretu at the Whitney and her etchings at Gemini Press in Chelsea. Being introduced to Mehertu’s work as a graduate student was highly inspirational, in particular her idiosyncratic mark making and systems of notation. Standing before one of her monumental canvases from the 80’s makes my heart sing for days.
Equally enchanting was spending time with the expansive exhibition of Cezanne’s drawings at MOMA. There is something so intimate when faced with drawings; the viewer gets a very direct connection with the artist’s hand and heart. A few other treasures: seeing Terry Winter’s recent work at Mathew Marks and Gerhard Richter at Gagosian. Currently, I am reading Peter Schjeldahl’s “Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light.” I enjoy his straightforward and lively writing and always learn something new from his astute background insights on familiar artists. Another good read, Seth Godin’s “The Practice: Shipping Creative Work.” The author’s insights are both supportive and motivating for an arts practice, especially if you are an artist that is trying to get your work out into the world.
Where can we find more of your work?
You can dive into my website at audreytulimierowelch.com Instagram @audreytulimierowelch.
The following galleries represent my work:
Nancy Toomey Fine Art, San Francisco, CA
Russo Lee Gallery, Portland, OR
Robischon Gallery, Denver, CO
In October 2021 I will have a solo exhibition at the Russo Lee Gallery and in May 2022, Nancy Toomey Fine Art in San Francisco will mount a solo exhibition.
This summer I will be releasing a collection of paintings on canvas and paper that I produced while living overseas, titled “The Expat Paintings”. If any of your followers would like to receive a PDF of that work please subscribe to my website or shoot me an email @ email@example.com.