I received a bachelor’s degree in studio art, and from there began a career not painting. However, I did manage to push my way into museums where I found a satisfying relationship with art as an editor and copywriter. After (happily) settling into various desk jobs in editing and writing, I always said I’d get back to painting later in life.
Later finally happened in 2006 when the director of the Aiken Center for the Arts asked me if I would make new work for a show after she saw my work at my parents’ house in South Carolina. Despite the excitement of having that show, I couldn’t get over the drain of a full-time job to continue painting on the side. I went back to work.
Then I had a baby. Now I had a new full-time job, and it was even fuller than the last three combined. But I wasn’t working at a museum anymore, and for the first time there wasn’t anything to satisfy my artistic interest, which turned out to be a bigger disappointment than I thought it would. I didn’t do anything about it for a few years. Then later happened again when my son was nearing the age to attend school five days a week.
I decided that if I were to try painting again this would be the time. I still had all of my materials and didn’t need to buy a thing. This experiment wouldn’t cost anything, and if I painted over old canvases I could also unclutter the guest room closet. Well, it all clicked, and I have been painting regularly since 2015.
I moved into a new studio in 2021 to accommodate my growing practice (and stacks of paintings). I sell my work in person at local art festivals, as well as online here. I spend most of my painting time exploring my surroundings--Chicago neighborhoods plus a lot of the South Carolina coast--and I do take on commissions when I can.
I live in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago with my husband and our son.
About That Chicken Butt ...
My first formative art education was in high school under the direction of Walt Bartman, and one of my favorite memories of Bartman’s class is when he brought in a caged chicken for us to draw. He named it after artist Kurt Schwitters because, “it Schwitts all over the place.” I still have my chicken paintings, which are ink and chalk on a heavy, toothy paper. We worked quickly and on big paper because that chicken flapped his feathers the entire time it modeled.
At the end of each school year, the art department held a big, well-attended show, and Bartman incentivized us throughout the year to earn a prime location in the gallery (gymnasium). The more art you produced and the harder you worked, the better your ranking when he handed out spaces. It was a big gymnasium ("under the dome") with many rooms--trust me, there were bad spots.
Bartman's art classes were very popular, and there are many former Vikings who are professional artists today, including my friends Anne (Perkins) Wert, Maura (Collins) Matthews, and Gavin Glakas.
Amanda Brodie Stenlund spends time walking along the streets (and shores) of both Chicago and South Carolina, where she considers ways to picture the moods of these places by looking at their landscapes, their people, their stuff, all their bits and pieces. A traditional, realist painter in oil and pastel, she focuses on composition first, then figuring out how to balance shape, value, color, line, texture, and negative space. It’s a puzzle putting those elements together, and she loves puzzles.
Since Stenlund began painting in high school, she has admired the colorful, bold styling of Wayne Thiebaud’s work. As an adult, she has even greater respect for his attitude: painting can elevate anything to a beautiful object if the artist shows what makes it interesting to him or her.
Awards and Exhibitions
Prairie Plein Air Competition, Honorable Mention, 2022
Beautiful Possibilities exhibition at Woodwalk Gallery, March 2021
AcrylicWorks 8 Best of Acrylic, Honorable Mention for Land and Sea, 2021
Member, Plein Air Painters Chicago
Member, Oil Painters of America
Silver Medal, Art Ascent magazine, December 2019
Who's Afraid of Red? Exhibition at Studio Oh!, December 2019
Merit Award for Emerging Artists, Art Muse, November 2019
Artist, Lakeview East Festival of Arts, September 2019, 2021, 2022
Artist, Ravenswood Art Walk, September 2018
Guest Artist, Cornelia Arts Building Open Studios, May 2018
A clear vocational disaster