Randi’s paintings are a manifestation of her love and appreciation for the natural world. She gains her inspiration by exploring nature on her hiking and backpacking trips. Through her work, Randi captures each unique landscape’s spirit, energy, and beauty through her acrylic paintings. Each painting has a sense of movement and energy flow to them, creating an image full of life and beauty.
Randi is based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received her B.F.A at Grand Valley State University with an emphasis in illustration. After graduation, Randi became drawn to creating paintings of landscapes. Inspired by the beauty of Lake Michigan, she began to create paintings of the beaches and woods along the lakeshore. She has continued to explore other parts of Michigan, like the Pictured Rocks, for her work as well as other beautiful places in the country.
Randi is especially drawn to the deep forests of the Pacific Northwest and is planning on making pieces from her hiking trips in the near future. It is a goal of Randi’s to continue exploring new landscapes in order to experience new life forms, energy, and gain inspiration for her paintings.
Music and dance are a big part of her life as well as painting. She often listens to music while creating her work and its influence can be visually seen in her pieces through their movement. Her paintings feel as if they are dancing and come to life with the patterns and rhythms she creates with her fluid strokes. Randi is calling her paintings “Flow Paintings” because of the meditative state she gets in while painting, which causes her fluid strokes.
It brings Randi joy to be able to meet others and to have a sense of community and connection through her work. She connects with her clients online and through art festivals. She loves working one-on-one to create meaningful custom pieces for client’s spaces.
Randi has taught 2-D Design at Grand Valley State University as and adjust professor. She has also given demos and taught workshops at art centers.
When did you begin painting and how did you get started?
Randi: I went to Grand Valley State University and studied illustration. I was also very interested in landscape painting. I took a few painting classes during college where they taught oils but didn’t fully dive into painting until after graduation. My university was about 20 minutes from Lake Michigan. I lived near the school after graduation for the summer, so I was able to easily go out to the lake and paint on the scene. Growing up in southern Michigan, I had never visited the Lakeshore until college. It was so beautiful, it evoked inspiration in me. Nature, in general, inspired me to paint, so I continued to visit different parks to paint on location, as well as take photographs for my work.
Why did you choose acrylic as your medium?
Randi: During art school, we experimented with a lot of different mediums. Some of the mediums I used during school to make my pieces were collage, gouache, oil, and digital work. I experimented with all of these, but couldn’t quite get the look I was going for. I was drawn to the flat graphic look of contemporary graphic design and illustration. The similar style of Japanese Art, and graphic early 19th-century European posters, like Mucha’s, really caught my attention when developing my art, as well as the landscape paintings of Vincent Van Gough and the Group of Seven. I didn’t start using acrylic paint until after art school, but it allowed me to create the way I was drawn too. The way that it dries quickly allows me to create many layers within my work and have clean crisp shapes. It also allows me to integrate colorful linework throughout my pieces. I continue to develop my work and have experimented with oils, but keep coming back to using acrylic paint.
What is the message you are trying to give with your art?
Randi: With my work, I am trying to connect others to nature and bring awareness to the living things in the world. Every landscape is unique and has its own life forms and color palettes. My hope with my work is to open the eyes of others to the beauty that exists in the natural world and bring peace and beauty within nature to their lives.
Please Describe Your Process When You Start an Art Piece. How Do You Choose a Landscape to Work With?
Randi: I become inspired by nature and work from photographs that I take during my hiking trips for my paintings. I will take many photographs during my hikes, and choose an image with a strong composition and impactful scene to work from. I sometimes work on the composition in the computer to set me up for creating a strong painting. Once I have an image I sketch my composition on my canvas with a paint brush and paint. I create my paintings with many layers and build up the dimensions through layering.
Describe a real-life situation from your hiking experience that inspired your artwork.
Randi: Some of my favorite pieces that I have created were inspired by my time at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. In 2018 my boyfriend and I backpacked the North Country Trail along the Cliffs of the Pictured Rocks. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I have had. The forests growing along the edge of the cliffs, against the teal blue water of Lake Superior was stunning. It was spring when we went and all of the trees had just started blooming, and the weather was perfect. I felt as if I was in a fairy tale. The paintings that I created from my photographs I took during the trip were filled with the colors of the rainbow and stunning landscapes.
What artists influenced you the most and why?
Randi: The early 19th-century Group of Seven painters from Canada has influenced me the most. I found their landscape paintings just after graduation from GVSU, and was in awe at their beautiful paintings that capture the spirit and beauty within nature. The Group of Seven worked out of Toronto, Canada, just 5 hours from where I live. They would take camping trips around the Lake Superior Provincial Park in Canada to gain inspiration for their work and to paint on the scene. My process, theme, and inspiration for my work is very similar to the Group of Seven and I feel a strong connection to some of the painters. They tried to capture the spirit of nature within their pieces, and that is what I am doing with my work as well. My favorite painters from the group are Tom Thompson, Lawren Harris, and Franklin Carmichael. The beautiful places they would paint are so close to the areas that I draw inspiration from. I would love to paint the same parks that these legends have someday.
What music do you listen while creating your artwork, and how it influences your artwork?
Randi: Music is a big part of my life and also influences my work. I enjoy actively attending live music shows and festivals. Music inspires me and brings a lot of joy and connection to my life. I love learning about new music and expanding my horizons. The influence of music can subtly be seen in my work. My paintings have a visual rhythm to them the way I create patterns and a sense of flow into the pieces. They almost have a visual dance to them that is influenced by the music I listen too. I enjoy music that is upbeat, beautiful, atmospheric, dancy, and uplifting. I am a fan of reggae, bass, dub, rock, psychedelic rock, funk, ambient, atmospheric music, and more.
How has your art evolved over the years?
Randi: Over the years, my work has become more abstract and more vibrant. I used to paint on location more, but now I work in the studio on most of my pieces. I have continued to grow the size of my pieces as well. Commission work has also influenced the growth of the paintings I create. In the past, I worked small, because I often only painted outdoors and could only finish a small piece. Now that I work in the studio on my pieces I can develop the paintings more and make them stronger that they would be on site.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Randi: I connect with people who are interested in my work over the internet, or in person at my fine art festivals. People are more than welcome to email, message, or call me if they have any questions. They can view my work at www.randifordart.com or on my Instagram and Facebook accounts, Randi_Ford_Flow_Paintings. I currently have a newsletter where I connect with others and keep them updated with my work. People can sign up for it on my website to stay up to date with my work.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Randi: Yes, I have had many shows postponed for a later date or canceled because of COVID-19. I would have been participating in the Ann Arbor Art Fair this year for the first time, but it will be postponed to next year. The rest of the shows are currently up in the air. Though many of my shows may not happen, I am looking forward to connecting more with others overdo
What is next for you?
Randi: I currently have been working on a body of work that captures the Empire Bluff’s in Northern Michigan. I will be releasing them online soon, along with a t-shirt design as well. I hope to connect with art collectors online, and hopefully at my festivals in person. After I am finished with the series I am planning on creating a series of paintings from the Pacific Northwest which I am excited about! I have so many inspirations from places I have been, I just need the time to create it all.
Good luck and thank you!