These Watercolor Paintings Explore the Human Condition

Valerie Patterson’s watercolor paintings are packed with details, exploding with what she deems as “psychological resonance”, that delves into the human condition. Throughout her work, Patterson strives to give voice to difficult social and political subjects in an attempt to encourage thought, emotion, and dialogue. It’s an unsettling experience but one that’s wholly worthwhile.

Born in 1963, Patterson grew up in Ogdensburg, NY, the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister and public school teacher whom she credits for her humanitarianism. An excruciatingly shy child, Patterson spent much of her time alone, thinking, dreaming, and making art. After High School, she attended the State University Of New York At Potsdam, where she earned degrees in Art and Education, after which she became an art teacher while spending most of her other time painting.

“I believe that most of my ideas come through me, not from me,” she writes on her website, explaining her sources of inspiration. “Sometimes, ideas simply pop into my head seemingly from nowhere. Other times, some political or social situations will appear in my conversations, in the news, in a movie or in many other ways — repeatedly, beckoning me to paint them.”

“Once I realized the tremendous power that images can have to make people comfortable or uncomfortable, happy or sad, settled or unsettled, I knew I had a voice,” she adds. “I decided to use my voice to encourage people to see, think and feel – something not always valued in our culture. Awareness replaces ignorance and opens up the possibility of change. If you can’t ignore it, then you may feel compelled to change it.”

Step inside her unsettling worlds: