Colorful language takes on a totally different, literal meaning when artist Amy Pink talks about the passions and perspectives guiding her life story towards an ongoing Costa Rica chapter.
“I see eye candy everywhere I look,” she says when describing the sense of aliveness that overtakes her imagination in outdoor settings. “In my mind’s eye I see every landscape as a potential pastel … how I would lay out the drawing, how many different shades of the colors I might use.”
Amy’s extraordinarily nuanced regard for color manifested at a very young age. Whether crayoning stylish stick figures or painting in oils, Amy would lose all track of time during her creative immersions.
“As a child, I was even a creator in the garden,” the Long Island, New York native recalls. “I would not tolerate a red flower next to a purple flower, so I would reposition them even if they were from bulbs — and you absolutely do not move bulbs around while in bloom. But even back then, colors not in harmony were too painful for me to live with.”
Amy’s love of impressionist art later influenced her foray into pastel depictions of landscapes en plein air — translated from French as “in the open air.”
“I think when I work en plein I am also painting the light,” she says, ”My style is unique, my strokes are quite individual, and for this I am grateful to be self-taught.”
Amy’s early adoption of pastels as her favorite medium was not for lack of formal instruction in a wide range of other media, culminating with a BFA degree from the School of Visual Art in New York City.
“I studied textile design, printmaking, photography, graphic design — you name it. I took every type of art class available. However, I am completely self-taught in the medium I chose to work in. I love pastels for their richness of color and the freedom and possibilities they afford. I once went on a yoga and painting retreat at Giverny — Monet’s home in France — and was given acrylic paints. I did not like them at all, and was very grateful I brought my pastels!”
Concurrent with Amy’s artistic journey over the years were her world travels. Trips to Costa Rica, the Galápagos Islands, Africa, Chile and Bolivia ultimately set the stage for a thematic shift inspired by a different kind of muse altogether. While exploring these international locales, it had become clear to Amy that animals were attracted to her in all kinds of ways she found crazy and delightful. The brainchild of that realization is the series of pastels she named Animal Joy, now the primary focus of her work.
In striving to capture the light, spirit and energy of her animal subjects, Amy has been struck by the change in tone, mood and intensity of her art.
“My landscapes are very soft and tranquil, and the Animal Joy series is bold and vibrant,” she says. “The animals all look deeply at you daring you to imagine what they are thinking.”
Amy’s transition away from creating hundreds of landscape pastels over three decades occurred gradually in steps. One day she added an animal to a landscape. Then another … until her pastels became about the animal in a landscape.
Initially, she drew only one animal at a time, each expressing something to the viewer. Her next group of animals became family units — mother and baby, father and baby or a brother and sister — with each image portraying the emotion of these relationships.
It’s hardly surprising that Amy finds no end of artistic inspiration in Costa Rica, where she and her husband, Fred Lipsky, chose to put down roots more than 16 years ago upon purchasing their home in Nuevo Arenal.
“We joke that we did not want to retire to Florida, the land of strip malls, traffic congestion and homeowner association rules,” Amy recalls. “Here, we are living our best, most active creative lives with all the beauty and adventures Costa Rica offers.”
Fred, whose photography has been featured in the Howler — currently in a bird series — offers guiding services for photographers and kayak fishing enthusiasts. Together, the couple founded the Facebook group WTF Costa Rica, which, Amy notes, has evolved from having 70% gringo / 30% Tico followers to 80% Tico / 20% gringo.