Arts | October 2016
With typical childhood summers that involved waking up before dawn to “steal the day” with her dad, it seems somewhat inevitable that Greenwood-native Angie Crick would become an artist. The fact that those sunrises filled the sky over the Mississippi Delta — the most Southern place on Earth — didn’t hurt, either.
“I just don't know how you can beat the sunrises and sunsets in the Delta,” says Crick, who grew up memorizing the changes in the scenery of some of the most fertile land available, and the effect light and dark had on it. That firsthand experience would later set the tone for her paintings, with colors and settings commonly seen throughout the region, and with the palpable use of light, shadow and texture.
Now recognized for her iconic depictions of Mississippi living and landscapes, Crick paints the settings that have always inspired her the most. Cool blue and violet shadows over a cotton field at sunset, Diesel tanks in a field beneath a stunning azure and storm-threatened sky, or the dusty silhouette of a tractor as it rides within a golden glare.
Crick finds her scenes for potential paintings through driving the area and snapping photos. She also has friends send photos of landscapes they’ve captured on their cameras, and most of her work is painted from these real-life still shots. “Sometimes, it’s an idea or feeling I want to convey,” she says. “When I see something or someone I want to paint, I usually know it immediately.”
As a sort of unique calling card for her work, many of Crick’s paintings include an added element of woven objects through the canvas, whether pieces of cotton, actual dirt and dried grass from the region, or copper that catches and deepens the colors around it.
“Delta landscapes are covered in various crops, including a lot of cotton,” she says. “Itʼs a livelihood for so many in our community. I can't help but appreciate that and often paint cotton.” Crick’s connection with the Delta’s most famed crop is personal, too. “My mother has worked for a cotton company for 43 years. Cotton season was always busy and important, and as a child, I knew everyone had to step up during this time.”
When not painting, Crick uses her degree in Art and Education from Delta State to introduce others to the craft. In addition to being a high school art teacher at Pillow Academy, she works one-on-one with students — from kindergarteners through adults — who are interested in becoming better artists. And in most cases, she paints along with them, offering a demonstration piece that moves step by step, from beginning to completion of the painting process.
“The excitement my students have for art is invigorating,” she says. “Watching them develop skills and seeing how proud they are of their work gives me such a feeling of accomplishment. I try to build their skills by picking a project that highlights a technique or concept and build on that.”
Primarily working with acrylics and oils, Crick also enjoys incorporating other media. Along with the regional materials woven into her canvases, her commissioned work often includes old wood with a story. “It’s challenging to use the textures, it’s like working a puzzle,” she says.
Having painted for as long as she can remember, her own artistic muse, which began informally as a child, was mostly from seeing those Delta sunrises and sunsets with her dad. She then learned technique through artists on PBS providing step-by-step instructions. “My favorite was of a pastel artist that illustrated while a narrator told the story,” she recalls. “From that program, I learned so much about drawing with simple shapes, light and shadows.”
“I still get my books out to explore,” says Crick. “Sometimes, it’s to dabble with what happens when you defy traditional concepts. I get lots of effects in my paintings by mixing media you are told not to. However, I sometimes make things that sizzle and have to evacuate my studio!”
The Art of Delta Landscapes
Southern artist Angie Crick on the imagery
that has inspired her work
Story by Tonya Thompson | Photos courtesy of Angie Crick