Beauty of Following the Instincts

Emi Tsuji, Staff Reporter

A visiting Assistant Professor of Art, Denise Presnell’s three oil and cold wax paintings were selected for the national competitive art exhibition held at Kavanaugh Gallery of Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, Ill.  

Presnell returned to Lakeland this fall semester. She used to teach at Lakeland as an art professor from 1989 to 2015. After 2015, she continued teaching online classes and she completely turned back to a full-time artist in 2017. While she was working as a full-time artist, she moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  

Presnell recalled her work as a full-time artist, “I had a big studio that I rented, and I just painted every day. I got myself into a whole lot of exhibitions, entered a lot of exhibitions, and showed my work all around the country.” 

For those who are interested in her art exhibitions in Kavanaugh Gallery, Presnell strongly recommends visiting their online gallery on their website instead of visiting the museum considering the ongoing pandemic 

“They’re open so you can go into the gallery but they also have an online gallery and videos of it so that people who can’t visit because of COVID can see it. Plus, you can’t go to Illinois right now. People from Wisconsin, if we go to Illinois, we have to stay there for two weeks,” Presnell stated. 

Kavanaugh Gallery’s competitive art exhibition called “Purely Abstract” juried Presnell’s three artworks named “In Limbo,” “Persnickety,” and “Uncertainty.” She described her painting pieces as “intuitive abstraction.”  

She elaborated that “I don’t come up with an idea before I start painting. I just start painting without doing a lot of reasoning or intellectual concepts. I rely on my instincts.”  

Her experience as an artist since 1979 built up her instincts. “I very rarely use a brush anymore when I paint. I use brayers that they roll the paint on and I use tools that scrape the paint on. I also use methods of removing the paint and going down into the surface of earlier layers.” 

Elizabeth Roe, a senior student who is double majoring in studio art and psychology, described her interaction with Presnell. “So far, I’ve only had the chance to take two-dimensional design with Denise as the new professor, but I can already tell that she is an incredibly insightful, and personable professor. She takes the time to look at the progress of everyone’s work and make helpful comments that guide our projects along. Not only does she advise while we work on projects, but she also makes sure that we produce our best work. She makes anyone who walks into the classroom feel welcome and often strikes up friendly conversations,” Roe stated.  

The art exhibition, “Purely Abstract,” is held at Kavanaugh Gallery of Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, Ill from Oct. 16 through Nov. 21. Presnell’s three art pieces, “In Limbo,” “Persnickety,” and “Uncertainty” are juried into their collection. To view the exhibition, please visit Kavanaugh Gallery’s online gallery (