Performance painter uses best of both worlds

William Woods University students look on as artist Vesna Delevska paints to the sounds of the mandolin Thursday night at the Kemper Art Center. Tom Schultz, a musician and librarian at the university, performed the music. Delevska is a St. Louis-based performance painter. Delevska came to the event with no idea of what she wanted to paint and allowed the rhythms and melodies of the mandolin to influence her artwork.

William Woods University students look on as artist Vesna Delevska paints to the sounds of the mandolin Thursday night at the Kemper Art Center. Tom Schultz, a musician and librarian at the university, performed the music. Delevska is a St. Louis-based performance painter. Delevska came to the event with no idea of what she wanted to paint and allowed the rhythms and melodies of the mandolin to influence her artwork. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Lessons of artistic discipline and freedom came into play for Vesna Delevska, a St. Louis-based artist, yesterday as she live painted at William Woods University to the sounds of the mandolin.

Delevska is a performance painter and allows her environment and, in yesterday’s case, music to take control of her artistic actions. Tom Schultz, musician and librarian at William Woods, played the mandolin.

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Vesna Delevska, a St. Louis-based artist, paints at William Woods University Thursday night as musician and William Woods librarian Tom Schultz performs songs on the mandolin. Delevska, a performance painter, used the music as the inspiration for her artwork.

“I love that I’m not a part of it,” Delevska said. “So it’s always a surprise to me too whatever happens with the painting … It’s almost if I’m painting it and watching it at the same time.”

Delevska grew up in Macedonia where learned from her father, who is also an artist, and experimented with art around age 7 or 8, she said. She copied her father’s work, mostly realism, and eventually created her own work.

For four years, Delevska studied art in Macedonia, where art was taught as a traditional and structured craft. Once she arrived in America, Delevska gave up art to study psychology as a freshman at the University of Central Oklahoma. Art slowly came back into her life, though, and Delevska learned how to express herself through the art — a right she didn’t feel she had before.

“I love both aspects,” Delevska said. “They’re both necessary in any art.”

Now, she combines her technical skills from Macedonia with her American artistic freedom will as a performance painter. Painting, for Delevska, is endless.

“To create as much as possible is my only goal,” Delevska said. “I’m overwhelmed with the idea that I’ve done a lot of artwork. Everything that I see, I feel like it’s just not enough because it opens new doors for me, new worlds, new doors.”

Delevska paints “live” at events, making art pieces in a matter of hours and in front of a crowd.

“Usually right before, maybe a couple hours before any show, I would look through images of nature or whatever inspires me the most and I remember colors and light and some elements and landscapes I really like,” Delevska said.

Using yellow, red, black and a touch of white, Delevska created an autumn-like painting of river with trees lining the river’s sides.

“I could see me sitting on the bank of that river, playing and falling asleep … It looks warm,” Schultz said.

Terry Martin,William Woods fine arts professor, said he wanted his students who attended the performance to realize art doesn’t need to be derived from something else.

“I just think that her work not only reflects the training an artist should have but also the intuitive aspect of painting,” Martin said. “We can teach all kinds of lessons and that can be learned in a rational way but eventually it has to be expressed in an intuitive way. For them to see how she doesn’t have a model, she doesn’t have photographs, it just comes from her imagination is really amazing.”

Delevska will return to Fulton in March. She will act as an external evaluator and critique about 20 student portfolios for annual assessments.

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