Anne DeGheest didn’t grow up as an artist. She moved to the U.S. from Belgium to pursue a career as an engineer studying health-care companies, and the idea of drawing – even as a hobby – never crossed her mind. But the Los Altos resident said that changed after her mother died.
DeGheest remains in the corporate world, but she’s also an artist whose work will be on display at this weekend’s Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival.
DeGheest’s mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, often spent her time drawing and produced what DeGheest described as beautiful pieces of artwork. In contrast, the height of DeGheest’s artistic capabilities were drawing simple stick figures, she said. However, when DeGheest received the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” she decided to give it a try in honor of her mother’s talent and passion for drawing.
The book describes the concept of how there are two sides of the brain: the left and right. The left controls the educational and more structured aspects, and the right is the artistic side. For most people, the left brain suffocates the right brain and reduces their ability to create.
As an engineer, DeGheest figured that she was in the majority and had unintentionally cut out the right. To fix this, she began compartmentalizing the various subjects she tried to draw. For example, if she were to draw a horse, instead of seeing the horse as a whole, she would focus on the shapes that made up the horse and sketch those down.
Over time, she went from drawing with pencils to drawing with software. Her background in engineering led to her fascination with details, DeGheest said, and she found that drawing on an iPad with an Apple Pen fulfilled her needs. She would now be able to work on the pixel level and create the high-definition pieces she does today. With the app Procreate, she uses layers to explore the countless ways to create digital art. She launched a website (adegheest.com) and started selling her art online.
“I’ve always been on the business side, and this is a part of me that I never really had the chance to experiment with,” she said. “And to have people who I absolutely do not know walk into a space and say, ‘I love this,’ this is something that’s much more.”
DeGheest said her main philosophy for drawing is to evoke a specific emotion with a single image. To create art that appeals to people, she pulls on their emotions to grab their attention. At her last showcase, she displayed a picture of a mother giraffe and her baby sharing a moment. This appealed to many mothers who passed her booth, DeGheest noted, due to the emotions she expressed through the detail in her piece. Accomplishing this meant she had to access her engineering background.
“(I consider), what’s the feeling I want to convey and how do I use images to convey the feeling?’” she said. “Whereas in engineering, it’s reversed because it’s, ‘What’s the product I need to build, and how do I do it good enough so I can make it in high volume?’ So this one is totally the opposite. It’s all about getting those feelings from an image and conveying those feelings.”
DeGheest’s artwork ranges from realistic portraits of nature to more abstract pieces. Because she never took any drawing classes, she said she feels free to pursue any style of drawing she wants. Her collection of work includes wildlife drawings on metal prints, along with modern and Asian styles. Each of these showcase her vast range of skills when it comes to drawing. She plans on expanding her range of styles in the future as she continues to explore the world of digital art.
“You get the feedback from what people resonated with,” she said. “I mean, clearly, the animals resonated with people. But I have some people who loved some more simplistic Asian series just because of the compositions and the story told. So I’m experimenting with some of those now. I may come up with a fourth style in a couple of months.”
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival is scheduled 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in downtown Los Altos. For more information, visit downtownlosaltos.org.