03 Apr Four Day Ray Showcase: Free Flowing by Joy Tilson Cobb
Joy Tilson Cobb can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t working on some type of creative, visual project. She spent most of her childhood in Moorestown, New Jersey, and although small, the town and Tilson Cobb’s school were very involved in the arts.
Growing up with parents who were both musicians, art has always been a thread throughout her life; as a child, Tilson Cobb would say to her mother, “I’ll sing it the right way, you sing it the wrong way,” referring to the melody and harmony of whatever song was playing at the time. Her parents eventually encouraged her to start with a foundation in music, so she decided to first learn how to play the piano.
“When we would have friends over, everyone ended up around the piano,” Tilson Cobb says. “Shenandoah was our family song, and we ended up moving to the Shenandoah valley when I was 17.”
During her time learning how to play the piano, Tilson Cobb also took voice lessons and would accompany choirs when needed. She went to college to be an opera singer or musical theater performer, but she never pursued either career due to her focus on her family after marriage. A severe case of stage fright prevented Tilson Cobb from singing again until well into her 30’s, but during that time she learned how to play the harp and saxophone, and she began finding new ways of expressing her creativity.
The artist began feeding her passion through the art of quilling, crocheting, designing window treatments, and learning the intricacies of wallpaper. She owned a toy store when her children were in high school, but her experience as a studio assistant for an artist who did silk painting and had designed a clothing line is what guided Tilson Cobb in what she truly wanted to do. Her newfound love for colors and her natural talent for replicating led her to try watercolor painting, needle felting, and wet felting, and she even began studying renaissance scrolls–but she realized these practices did not have the ability to fulfill her passions.
Acrylic pouring is something Tilson Cobb saw on the internet when she was researching abstract art inspiration for a large painting she was making for a beach condo. She felt inspired by those who would freely go through the process, putting it all out there and sharing their work with others. Not only did she benefit from watching the process of these other artists, but this inspiration is also what ultimately led to the creation and naming of her exhibit.
“You can get pretty results as a beginner, even if you don’t see yourself as an artist,” Tilson Cobb says. “Free Flowing [is the exhibit title] because it not only describes the art itself—the flowing water feel of most of my work—but also the process has to be free flowing.The paints combine in unpredictable ways as they’re poured onto the canvas, and that’s when you need to be willing to let go and possibly head in another direction than what you’d planned. It’s a cliché, but you really do have to ‘go with the flow’!”
Due to the nature of the style, replicating acrylic pours is not possible and that has proven to be a challenge for Tilson Cobb, but she tends to find herself looking for challenges, and when a piece doesn’t turn out, she tries something else. She feeds off of the various ways she can express herself through her artwork, and she enjoys incorporating new techniques.
“I try to create things of beauty, the feeling you get from lying in the grass or gazing at the ocean,” she says. As time has gone on, Tilson Cobb’s process has become more complex—now, she embellishes pieces by adding additional layers with a goal of invoking the calm, relaxing sensation of fluid art over her pieces’ viewers.
“It’s ever-changing, and it’s not structured like other art forms. You just go with that flow,” she says. “And I play music while I do it, so I get inspired that way, too. I have grown a lot with it in the last five years, and I hope to continue to grow and find new ways to challenge myself and keep it exciting.”
The full Free Flowing exhibit can be seen at Four Day Ray Brewing, located at 11671 Lantern Road in Fishers, April 1 through June 29, Sunday and Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. You can meet Tilson Cobb at her free public reception on Monday, May 22 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Four Day Ray.