Art Beyond the Canvas with Patti Sevensma

by Kimberly Grace Gill • photography by Two Eagles Marcus 

Having grown up on the shores of Lake Michigan, Patti Sevensma compares her love of creating art to her life-long fascination with the serene, but often turbulent, lake.

“It’s beautiful, awesome and terrifying all at the same time,” Sevensma explained. “Making art is the same way. Every project is an adventure in and of itself.”

As the lake is ever changing, Sevensma, too, continues to develop as a multimedia artist. Her devotion to learning is rooted in enhancing her creative process and making her life more exciting and fulfilling.

She states that her goal has always been to try as many different artistic styles as possible before she dies.

“I want to try everything I can in my lifetime,” Sevensma said.

Sevensma creates work in her at-home studio, tucked away in the quiet countryside of Lowell. Her studio is small and electrifying, a laboratory of creativity that allows her to stretch her abilities and imagination.

Sevensma is known for being a three-dimensional photographic montage artist. Working from her computer, she chooses images from an extensive bank of photographs she’s taken and digitally layers them together to create a montage. She first experimented with printing individual layers on Plexiglas after becoming intrigued with the spiritual nature of light and how to utilize it to showcase her work.

Initially, it was challenging for Sevensma to figure out how to best display these images and allow light to shine through the layers.

“I started to play,” Sevensma recalled. “I would do mono-prints on Plexiglas, and I would put it up and look through it and think, ‘Wow!’”

She developed a framework to hold the layers as a sculpture, allowing her to space each layer strategically, resulting in a truly 3-D viewing effect. She is currently experimenting with the application of paint on these 3-D montages, combining her love of photography and painting.

To explore the possibilities of natural light further, Sevensma prints her photography and montages on brushed metal. Because these images are printed with the absence of white, when light shines on the metal it is reflected back, making the artwork shine brilliantly from different angles.

To Sevensma, experimenting is a large part of the creative process and says that it is essential for artists to challenge themselves by reaching outside of their comfort zones.

“Innovation in art, to me, is when an artist is going outside of the box for themselves—stretching themselves beyond what they would normally do,” she said. “It’s a very individual thing. Take techniques and play with them with your own signature.”

The list of awards, recognitions, juried and solo exhibitions and artist-in-residence opportunities that Sevensma has received is extensive. After earning a Signature Status Award from the National Collage Society and Nautilus Fellowship Status from the International Society of Experimental Artists (ISEA), Sevensma eventually took on the role as president of the ISEA, which boasts the slogan, “Where Art Meets Innovation.”

The organization provides an outlet and close-knit community for artists around the globe working with different kinds of mediums, including: sculpture, found object creation and video pieces. As the acting president, Sevensma is in contact with members every day fundraising, organizing shows and allocating scholarship funds.

She enjoys the connection the organization offers to artists who are working in uncharted territory.

“I love the comradery,” Sevensma said. “Artists are always so willing to share and support each other. What I like best is interacting with the other artists, because they are from everywhere, all over the world. It has opened up so many doors for me.”

Of all of her awards, Sevensma says the local honors are the most meaningful to her. She has been recognized by Festival of the Arts, Muskegon Museum of Arts and the Lowell Arts Council, of which she is heavily involved.

“The first thing I wanted to do in my life as an artist was get into Festival of the Arts,”she smiled.

Sevensma shares her passion for learning by teaching classes and workshops to inspire others and help them discover the joy of making art. She teaches a photography class with an emphasis on how to capture and design compelling images, a critique class for artists seeking to improve their design and composition skills and a watercolor class for beginning artists. Along with teaching, she continues to approach her craft with new perspectives and fresh energy, always looking around the corner at unexplored possibilities. This, she said, is what drives her forward as an artist.

“I think if I got to the point where I looked at my artwork and said, ‘That’s done,’ then I would be done as an artist,” Sevensma expressed. “It makes you stay young, sharp, interested in people and interesting to people.”

Sevensma’s artwork is on display at The Flat River Gallery and Framing in Lowell, Mullaly’s 128 Studio and Gallery in Elk Rapids, Museum Contempo in Shelton, Washington, Frames Unlimited Galleries in Grand Rapids, and other locations in the Midwest. For information about classes and her artwork contact Sevensma at

Kimberly Grace Gill is an independent fine artist specializing in portrait painting typically with a social justice orientation. She is a graduate of Aquinas College and lives in Byron Center, Mi with her husband, Pat.



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