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Outside the Lines: Spotlight on Abstract Artists

Artist Jackson Pollock described his work as “energy and motion made visible.” Best known for his “drip technique,” in which he poured and splashed paint on canvases laid on the floor, Pollock became an icon of the abstract expressionist movement of the mid-20th century. But abstract art is as unique as the artists who create it, and one need only look around our region for proof.

Conni Jo Hardie

Conni Jo Hardie; photo by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup


Born and raised in Placerville, Conni Jo Hardie has been winning awards for her art since she was seven years old. “My grandmother entered my oil painting into the county fair—in the adult division—and I won second place. Since then, I’ve enjoyed every aspect of the art world,” including acrylic and watercolor painting, photography, and ceramics. Hardie says abstract art allows her to apply her artistic abilities “in the most imaginative, experimental way.”



How do you define abstract art?
Altering reality in the mind’s eye. It expresses freedom of thought, feelings, experiences, movement, and objects in an interpretive style. It wakes up the imagination of the artist and the viewer. Exploring the unexpected.

Skies Delight


Where do you seek inspiration?
I’m inspired by how color theories relate to nature. Magnificent sunsets, beautiful ocean waters, breathtaking tropical flowers, and glowing volcanic eruptions create my palette.

Purple Fury


What do you wish more people understood about abstract art?
The more often you look at abstract art, the more you will see, especially when viewing it from different distances. It’s OK that one person sees something different than another person.  

Zachary Nicholson

Zachary Nicholson; photo by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup


As a kid, Folsom artist Zachary Nicholson spent hours at a time sketching pictures to show his mom. For many years, he used only charcoal and graphite, and had what he now calls a “blind deterrence” to color. “Through schooling, I was forced to expand my choice of mediums, which introduced me to the world of color and, in turn, abstract art.”

Forever Cornered By Fate


How do you define abstract art?
There really is no concrete definition of art itself, only “genres” and “mediums” but, in my opinion, abstract art breaks the most rules and lacks the most definition. Abstract art is, by far, the most intriguing and persistently fascinating style of art.

Broken Features


What appeals to you about creating abstract art?
For years I believed realism was the most impressive, intriguing type of art, but then I realized the artist is limited by the reference photo. In my opinion, realism turns a great artist into a printer and kills what is so great about art itself—the uniqueness we get from each artist’s perspective. Abstract art allows for pure creativity with no rules.

Hidden In Disarray


Describe your artistic process.
When I paint, the art usually comes out very fast and effortless. If I make a mistake, it usually becomes part of the painting. When creating abstract art, there really is no telling exactly what it’s going to look like, so you have to let the painting speak for itself by not micromanaging every bit of color on the canvas.

Eric Ostrander

Eric Ostrander; photo by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup


Folsom resident Eric Ostrander was introduced to art almost a decade ago as a therapeutic way to get through a challenging time. A few years later, while remodeling his home, he decided to experiment with art on the newly blank walls. “With the support of my inner circle, my experiment led to a passion, to sharing my passion publicly, to exhibitions and sales, and—just recently—to winning my first award!”

Mad As Hell


How do you define abstract art?
Abstract art is the manifestation of artistic expression affecting and connecting the artist and viewer amid indeterministic imagery.

Overfed Long-Haired Leaping Gnome


Where do you seek inspiration?
I’m particularly curious about life within the metaphysical universe, in its “quantumness” and totality. I strive to bring these concepts into the visual realm and realization of anyone with like-minded curiosity.

Wavey Daze


What do you wish more people understood about abstract art?
That you don’t need to understand abstract art; abstract art is not an understanding; it’s a feeling, an expression—energy being conveyed between the artist and onlooker, and no two people experience this energy alike.

Sondra Hersh

Sondra Hersh; photo by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup


Sondra Hersh has been creating art from her Auburn studio in a yurt for 30 years. Previously, she ran a design studio in Southern California, where she commissioned herself to create a small painting for a client. The client loved it, prompting her to pursue her passion. Hersh currently creates sculptures in wood, copper wire, and faceted precious and semiprecious stones, and recently returned to painting.

Sondra Hersh


How do you define abstract art?
It’s characterized by a lack of recognizable images or objects and often uses nontraditional materials or techniques. The emphasis is on expressing emotions and ideas using shapes, colors, and lines.

Sondra Hersh


Where do you seek inspiration?
From an active dialogue with spirit and my love for humanity and all of God’s creations. My process always starts with a spiritual impulse. For example, my latest series, Love Nests, started as small, intimate meditations on love during the pandemic and has grown into large communal nests. I believe my work is a material expression of a holistic life; my goal is to create work that is true and touches humanity in a way that creates a vibration of healing and peace.

Sondra Hersh


What’s the best compliment you could get about your art?
That the viewer feels held in love and that this feeling is now held inside them, something they can take with them. 

by  Jennifer Maragoni
Photo of Conni Jo Hardie by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup. Photos of Zachary Nicholson and Eric Ostrander by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup.