Be Mesmerized By This Austin Artist’s Memory-Filled Landscapes

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Aileen Fitzgerald working in studio Austin artist Aileen Fitzgerald looks to her imagination and memory for inspiration.

Painting is an act of conjuring for artist Aileen Fitzgerald. While the creative draws inspiration from places like Texas Hill Country and the sea, she pulls the scenes she paints entirely from her memory and imagination. “It’s as though my landscapes organically appear—like an entire vista is already living on the surface of the canvas, just waiting for me to reveal it,” she says. 

artist's work table and paint supplies

“I never wet my brush and rarely switch brushes,” Fitzgerald says.

Artist Aileen Fitzgerald in her studio

The artist works in a space in a historic building on Eighth Street in downtown Austin.

gallery wall of framed prints

A gallery wall features prints showcased in found antique and vintage frames.

Artist's paint palette and brushes

She uses paint, water jugs and brushes to bring each ethereal piece to life.

light filled studio with art on the walls

Displayed on Fitzgerald’s Austin studio walls are two large works created using layers of watered-down acrylic paint on raw canvas.

To create these ethereal works, Fitzgerald first washes her canvas in coats of water-thinned acrylic paint, which she rubs in with a cloth. “The process is a really contemplative progression of building up layers,” she explains. “I’ll water down some paint and then rub it into the canvas. It may require 20 to 50 layers, as each is very thin.” On top of this foundation, the artist then uses a dry brush technique to tease out branches, rolling hills or waves slapping against the shore. “The landscape is already there. The game is for me to detail it and pull it out of a haze,” she explains.

This unique method has evolved over the last several years since Fitzgerald began painting professionally. She loved art as a child, but wasn’t encouraged to pursue her interest—nor was she supported in the only art class she ever took. “I remember my high school teacher telling me my technique was wrong. I never wet my brush and rarely switch brushes,” the artist says. When she became a critical care nurse, her hobby eventually petered out.

However, after Fitzgerald found her old paintbrushes during the pandemic lockdown, she painted again for the first time in years. “It set off a blaze in my mind,” she recalls. With her creativity reignited, the artist soon took a leap of faith and left nursing to pursue her creative passion. At first, she sold her works on Instagram, which eventually led to placements in shops like Amber Interiors, a partnership with Four Hands and an upcoming show at Commerce Gallery.

As Fitzgerald’s artistic career gained steam, it became clear she would need a studio. So she moved into a space in a historic building on Eighth Street in downtown Austin, where she now hosts annual exhibitions of her work. Like one of her landscapes conjured into being, her career has continued to blossom and take shape within these walls. “I am surrounded by this blank, clean, massive space that is screaming for my ideas to be just as big,” she says. “The studio has expanded everything.” 

Photos by Buff Strickland