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Wendi Goodwin: Artist, Mom, Imagination, Inspiration

2 Apr

Wendi Michelle Goodwin

My friend Wendi is a fantastic painter and an outright imagination machine!  I met Wendi when I was a freshman in college and came home for Christmas break.  I ended up at a get-together with many people I went to high school with and walked into a garage that had been converted into a room of inspiration.  There was a table in the garage with paint and supplies so that when people came to visit they could put their mark on it!  There were layers of flaked paint as everyone loved to get creative and the layers of people had built up, revealing previous artwork beneath the new.  It was obvious that this was a place where the people appreciated art, imagination, and wanted everyone to join in.

While I was there, I only talked with Wendi once or twice but could tell she was a kind and thoughtful person, and was a wonderful hostess.  That was my first impression, but I was even more pleasantly surprised when I looked past the creation table in the garage and noticed the canvas, easels, brushes, and paints strewn across the rest of the garage.  There were a few paintings up that were in progress that grabbed my focus right away, even in the hustle and bustle of all the people milling around.  She used bright colors to create a new world right there in front of me, and I couldn’t believe how she used lines and curves and color to express what was in her mind. Her work was surreal, psychedelic, and ethereal all at once.  Her use of color was breathtaking and I must have known that someday I would have to share it with everyone else that I know!  Thank goodness we reconnected later and that have this blog so that I can do it right and give everyone a glimpse into her life, as well as her work.  I hope that through this post you all get to know Wendi and share her inspirational life and work with others you know!

A Bit About Wendi

Now I will share with you Wendi’s story!  It is full of both love and hardships.  Wendi is a 30 years young woman born and raised in good ole’ VA on the coast and loves it here.  Wendi has been drawing since she was a young child, and enjoyed portraying the rolling hills and trees of landscapes and experimenting with color, such as using the black-crayon-over-ranbow techniques that involves scratching off the wax to create a colorful picture (I think we all used to love that!).  She grew up being playful with her younger sister and being involved in the shenanigans that make being a big sis so fun!  Like daring your little sister to go through the doggy door during a house showing and having to explain to the realtor that your sis now a new amenity that has been installed free of charge!  Now, her sister (who is also an artist) and parents live and few hours away, but they are completely supportive of her painting and artwork and take her out on shopping sprees to help get her supplies for new creations, and they are otherwise very involved with Wendi and her super cute son.  Yes!  She is an artist and a mommy!  And a pretty good one at that.

Wendi’s parents definitely have good reason to be proud of their accomplished daughter.  Wendi had her son at 20 years of age, had to grow up very quickly, and learn how to take care of not only herself, but a little one.  She drew to cope with all of the intense emotions she was experiencing during the time, and developed a style of her own, which incorporated meaning and emotion into her art, graduating from the simple doodles of childhood and adolescence.  About 5 years ago, she was encouraged by some wonderful (and now vindicated) people to try out the paint and brushes.  She fell in love.  She still prefers pencil/markers (I mean hey, she had about 25 years of practice!) and painting is the medium next in line.  Now Wendi is a full-time art student looking forward to getting her degree and do what she loves for a living.  Wendi has had her fair share of struggles and battles that have brought her to where she is now.  This is a real woman with battle scars, but you would never know it from the smile on her face.  Life has been hard on her, and I think that is why she makes such an effort to be kind and make life easier for those around her.

“Over the past few years I have really discovered alot about myself.  Since age 20 I have given birth, lived in a nasty trailer park, gotten married, gotten divorced, became a full time nanny, full time teacher, quit work to go back to school, and moved to a different state, all while being a single mom. I think getting through all this has taught me that I NEED God in my life, and that has really influenced my artwork. I know that God is the true artist, creating our universe.  I have moved from drawing to drawing and painting, to being an art student, and I know for a fact that God has me just where he wants me to be.  Just knowing that has made it so much easier for me to relax and just do what I was born to do…art.  I used to make art for other people, now I make it for art’s sake. Straight from the crazy imagination God blessed me with!”

Through overcoming all of her hardships, Wendi realized the importance of God in her life, to lean on him, to let him work through her and to be thankful for the gifts he has given to her (like her lovely son, crazy imagination, and ability to create beautiful things!)  Her relationship with God has definitely influenced her artwork and, her spirituality comes out in her and ethereal works.  She hopes to get back to teaching art to children when she finishes her degree, and I think that is a wonderful idea.  She is a loving, dedicated, and involved mother who is also a wonderful role-model for any child.

Wendi’s Style

I find it hard to describe Wendi’s artwork, because it is definitely just hers!  She often creates worlds with many people and images, but for some reason, the chaos seems calming.  Her bright colors take the pandemonium and make it cheerful and forces the viewer to connect with the many different focuses and subjects in her work.

For example, in this work of hers, there is nature and there is home where we spend our days. There is loneliness and a threat that both fetal figures may fall into the depths of the unknown.  Yet, there is potential, with a man defying physics and floating to the heavens.  These are images and feelings we all find familiar, whether comforting or foreboding, in our lives.  The ribbon running through the sky seems to be a reminder that when we look up and realize our own potential, that we may find something beautiful waiting for us.  Don’t take my word for it though!  Everyone can get something different for a work of art!

Wendi’s favorite Artists:

Sandro Botticelli

Wendi’s favorite artist is Sandro Botticelli, creator of early renaissance works such as the famous Birth of Venus and Primavera.

“The expression in the eyes of the women he paints, it is like how my soul feels all the time…that is why I love his work. I really feel connected to his artworks.”

Boticelli has made many works with depicting the bare woman, both literally and figuratively this time!  Often depicting the holiness of the mother and female strength.

Peter Max

She was once told her that her artwork is reminiscent of Peter Max, and I really agree!  I had never heard of him and it was great to discover him through my interest in Wendi’s work.  They are similar in their use of bright colors and psychedelic themes.  It is interesting how their styles are very similar, yet they have formed their own ways of expressing that style.  And neither had ever met or known of the other!  It is so interesting that she learned of another artist in this world with a similar way of viewing the world from a random occurrence.

Peter Max is a German-born American illustrator and graphic artist, known for the use of psychedelic shapes and color palettes as well as spectra in his work. Max’s interest in astronomy contributed to his self described “Cosmic ’60s” period which featured what became identified as psychedelic, counter culture imagery (taken from , if you want to take a quick look on your own.)


“After I started painting, about 5 years ago now, some older folks (in their fifties/sixties) told me I reminded them of a painter named Peter Max. I had no idea who he was, so I looked him up and WHOA! We paint a lot alike! Maybe our minds hang out somewhere in space and collaborate, haha.”

Wendi’s Favorite Subjects and Themes

I have seen almost all of Wendi’s works, at least the ones available for all to see on the net.  I have seen her landscapes, psychedelic worlds and designs, but her depiction of the bare woman is one theme that can captivate me.  Don’t take my use of the word “bare” as literal.  It is not that she draws a significant amount of nudes (although her most recent Professor Marvel poster is brilliant!), but she is able to capture the essence of a woman with her deepest fears, worries, and insecurities so well that you feel you are inside the mind of the women in her works at their most vulnerable.  ”Bare” is the only word I can think of to describe the feeling I get from the experience.  Wendi has suffered from an eating disorder in her life, and I think this has really influenced her ability to get in touch with the weight of the world that every woman carries.  I believe that how deeply she feels,  overcoming her own fears, and her ability to see this in all women is a testament to her strength and ability to empathize like no other.

 ”My favorite things to paint/draw are women’s faces and hair, especially the eyes. I try to convey how I am feeling through them.   If I am feeling hurt or scared, then that is how her eyes will turn out, and most of the time it is subconscious for me.  I don’t even realize how I am feeling until the work of art is all done, then I get what I must have been feeling.  All the girls I paint are not representing me, but I think all girls.  It is so hard to be a woman these days: pressure to have a perfect body, to not stray from the norm, to be a perfect girlfriend/friend/mom/employee/housekeeper, etc!  It’s all so much.  I think that is why when I sit down to make art, usually a female is what comes out, looking deep in thought…I also love to paint eyes. Sometimes I just sit and draw eyes with no form attached.”

Above is the first paining Wendi ever sold.  Of all her works, this is my personal favorite.  I see color, texture, simplicity, emotion – just so many layers.  I love how there are scratches in the colors, revealing what is underneath the surface of the painting, and find within this work an analogy for seeing what is more than skin deep:  emotions, thoughts, the past, a recognition of the multiple dimensions of a person.

Wendi has also been working with some 3-Dimensional materials in her art classes.  I’m not certain, but it looks as though she used paper, on which she drew with Permacolor markers and framed with buttons onto a background.  I believe the original work she took this from was called “Alicey,” her personal depiction of an Alice in Wonderland theme, one of my favorite stories! And another story deeply rooted in a female searching for herself and delving into her imagination, looking for sense in this crazy, yet interesting, world.


I actually have a print of this beautiful image (I believe she used Prismacolor & sharpie markers) named “Girl with Bird.”  She brought some prints of her work to the latest show she painted at and I left with this one and a huge smile on my face.  It is very special to me so maybe I will dedicate a post to making a custom frame for it :) . Once again, an inspiring depiction of vulnerability. You can get a print of your own for $10.00 US by clicking the picture, which will take you directly to this print on her etsy page (link at the end of post). And this brings me to one of the most interesting things about some of Wendi’s artwork…

Live Painting

One of the things Wendi loves to do is paint LIVE!  Wendi is connected with the local music community (especially since her boyfriend is the drummer of the local band Professor Marvel)  and she works live to the music.  The improvisation allows her work to create itself and flow straight from her experience onto the canvas.  I have had the pleasure of seeing her paint live on several occasions and even got a chance to snap some shots of her in action.  It is a wonderful thing to see an artist in the midst of creation, and Wendi is fearless and confident with her brushes, in a state removed from the hustle and bustle, her mind in the same world that captured my full attention when I first saw her work.

“I would have to say my favorite pieces are the ones I paint/draw with no plan in mind at all. Where I just sit and don’t think, I just feel and create at the same time.” 

This is a painting Wendi created 4 years ago during a rowdy party.  She really got into the flow and I love her description of the experience!

“There was random chaos going on all around me: drinking, loud music, people yelling and singing, all the regular party stuff.  And there I was, alone in my imagination sitting in a corner painting this picture of fish. It was so simple to make those fish outlines with my paintbrush, almost like God had put that picture in my mind and He was moving my hand for me! I like to think of the fish as my son and I.”

This is one of the paintings I was lucky enough to see from beginning to the end.  While at Hoss’s Deli for a concert with Former Champions.  It was amazing to see the work progress from a dark, endless universe of a background into something that stares back at you with human emotion.

One of my favorite parts of this painting are the tree antlers, and the roots that intertwine around her neck.  From this work, I imagined a woman creating life and working to grow, yet feeling trapped and strangled by the deep-rooted emotions that are necessary to feel depth in one’s life.  The roots may have a hold on you, but they are necessary to feed the growth, and you can use them to make wonderful things in this world.

“I am also super inspired by music when I make art. Bands like Professor Marvel, Explosions in the Sky, and STS9 are some of my favorite to paint to. I also LOVE painting LIVE for local bands in the area. Painting LIVE at a venue while a band plays is a crazy feeling, and has really been a positive and happy experience! The other night I was at a bar and painted a picture for a man who had lost a son.  It made me want to cry.  My painting made him so happy and i can’t even describe that feeling in words.”

Wendi’s Words of Advice 

“The best thing about being an artist is the freedom! I can create whatever I want…no limits. It makes me so happy to buy new paints and a canvas, go sit in my art room at home, blast some music, and just create something new, something never created before, something that tells the world what I am feeling and thinking without using any words….To any aspiring artists I would say this: GO MAKE SOMETHING!  Don’t be afraid to do something new, something no one has ever done, because that is what draws people in and gives them something to relate to, when they may have had nothing to relate to before. Art can touch people in such deep ways. “

Please go and support this imaginative, passionate, and dedicated artist by visiting one of her many pages!  You can just check out her facebook page for her creations, take a look at her pinterest board for her artwork, buy original paintings or prints on her easy page, or come see her paint live at some of the local venues in the area!  If you can’t find the dates, contact her via facebook or contact me on the blog and I’ll let you know if there is anything coming up.  The best thing?  If you come, you can ask her to paint you something live to take home!


Facebook page:

Artwork Pinterest Board: 

Now listen to Wendi, and GO MAKE SOMETHING!



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