Renee Bitinas- An interview and exhibit at the Rialto Theatre Gallery

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I’ve always drawn and been motivated by what I could create through abstract art. Creating balance and proportion with abstract forms using curves, lines, and color has for me always been an enjoyable challenge.  It motivates me that abstract art is limitless.

I went to school for interior design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which got me into several art classes.  An art history class I took is what initially inspired me to paint.

Learning about art from ancient to classical to modern just opened my eyes and I had so much admiration for that art and those artists. I didn’t start painting until 2014, which was midway between finishing my design degree. The first handful of paintings I did were actually of space. I painted Andromeda, Jupiter, and a few other galaxies and space images. I did this because I felt it would give me practice on blending and getting colors right. I enjoyed painting so much that I wanted to switch my major to fine art and go to a different school, since the Art Institute didn’t offer that program, but I decided to finish what I started and that I could always study it later. Within 1.5 years, I started to paint abstractly, and noticed that my artwork in that style was gaining a lot of traction and that it came very naturally to me. So, I’ve been painting abstract ever since.

My style is fully abstract painting. I mostly use palette knife and seldom use brushes. Oil paint is my medium of choice, but I use acrylic paint to add texture to certain pieces, but not often. IMG_5496 2I don’t paint on anything other than stretched canvas right now, but I do canvas panels here and there. My creative process is very imaginative. I tend to paint something in my imagination before beginning a painting. At times, I will be able to vividly see the entire painting before beginning and it’s a fun challenge to paint it exactly how I’ve imagined it. Other times, I get a concept of what I want the painting to look like, or I imagine a combination of colors that I see working well together, and then I paint off of that notion. It depends on the mood I am in, because sometimes I want to paint very precisely and sometimes I want to paint more loosely and freely. You will also see that my work is comprised of either very intricate lines and carefully composed shapes, or very loose and sweeping strokes. For me, it is nice to have a balance of both styles.

I am greatly inspired by the modern art movement of the mid-century and the Bauhaus movement in Germany. Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Kline, and Pablo Picasso are painters I admire for their ability to create art using their imagination with lines, shapes, and colors.  I am also greatly inspired by classical art. Peter Paul Rubens, Caravaggio, Raphael, and Michelangelo are classical painters who I’m awe-inspired by for their masterful abilities. The Last Judgement, The School of Athens, and Grande Odalisque are some art pieces that inspire me because they are extremely beautiful and have a lot of meaning and history behind them.  The Vatican is a place that I got the opportunity to visit, and the Sistine Chapel, and it was one of the most artistically inspiring places I’ve ever been. There is so much masterful art there and so much history. It’s breathtaking.
Furniture, believe it or not, has inspired me a lot. Learning the history of furniture and how it has evolved with different art movements has shown me how lines, motifs, and forms change through time in both art and furniture design. They are both art forms that we experience in our environments every day. This goes as well for architecture, which is another form of art that inspires me and studying it has shown me that it has evolved like art in many styles.

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Places with a lot of history inspire me—I lived in Europe for several years and got to see a lot. I definitely have drawn a lot of my inspiration from the places I’ve traveled to abroad—seeing so much art and architecture has given me the gift of understanding and insight. Although I haven’t been abroad in several years, those experiences have become a part of me and have shaped my education and knowledge in a way that has been very beneficial for me as an artist. I have more knowledge and inspiration to derive from as opposed to not having had those experiences at all.
I did my entire degree online, and I was living abroad for two of those years. So, in a way, I studied abroad in the sense that I got to visit a lot of the places and see a lot of the artworks we were studying as we were studying them. It was unique that I was able to do this and I’m so glad I got to, because it deepened my understanding. Conversely, downtowns in trendy cities inspire me as well. I love to see the new, urban architecture and hipster shops. Industrial areas with a lot of grunge and modernism at the same time inspire me. Portland, Oregon is this way and is where I was born and recently spent six years living and where I began painting.

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The story line for this exhibit is Freedom Through Shape, Movement, and Depth. All of these piece I feel share one or all of these special characteristics: boldness of shape and line, depth through contrast, fluid movement, and balance. And the overarching theme is that there is no limit to a shape or what can be created abstractly, thus, freedom of creation.  One piece from my portfolio that I feel was a turning point in my style and that I really admire is ‘Opus.’ It is a large piece, 36×60, painted in oil and in a free-flowing abstract style. The colors are elegant and sensual, and it sold to someone at an art fair. That piece was when I decided I wanted to take my style in a new direction and create elegant, serene pieces, which I feel I have since.

My dad is a painter and sculptor and he taught me how to use oil paint. The greatest thing he did was let me create whatever I wanted. As I was growing up, he would always encourage my art whether it was drawing or anything else.

In art school during my interior design degree, I took a charcoal drawing class where we used charcoal to draw still life references. This was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. I drew eggs, plants, rooms, my own hand, my portrait, and other still life objects that showed me how realistic I could create something. I was impressed by charcoal and by my skills. It opened up the door for me to feel confident enough to create art.

My husband has been my greatest friend and supporter for the past six years that we’ve been together. He’s always pushed me to create a career out of my art and I feel so fortunate to have him in my life. Our family and friends have also been great supporters.
We are both entrepreneurs and help each other in our pursuits. Our goal is to live a successful and prosperous life through creating careers out of our passions, and so far we have done well! I started selling my art seriously in 2018, where I sold over 50 pieces nationally and internationally, and I have been growing my art business ever since.

On exhibit at the Rialto Theatre through the end of March.  Viewing available by appointment during the week Tuesdays and Thursdays 2-6pm, Wednesdays 10am-2pm, and during public events. 

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