Priscilla Phifer became an intuitive abstract artist in her golden years

Priscilla Phifer started her “accidental” career late in life. From decoupage, tablescape design and floral arranging to painting, Phifer has become a professional intuitive abstract artist at the golden age of 70. She creates art primarily without a brush and chose abstraction as her preferred method because it “… affords more freedom and flexibility than other traditional paint genres.”

We talked with Phifer more to find out who she is as an artist and where she gets her inspiration from.

What kind of artist are you? 

I am an intuitive abstract expressionist artist who became a professional at age 70. I did so without the knowledge of drawing and I create my art without a brush. I capitalize on this “handicap” to create mostly linear abstract art that speaks to people without incorporating figurative or realistic images.

How would you describe your art?

I describe myself as a drip, drag, splash and scrape artist who uses household and hardware items to paint.

Who have you been influenced by?

Some of my influences are acclaimed African American artists Sam Gilliam, Charles Burwell and Shirley Woodson Reid, especially for their use of color. My first series in 2016, “You Are Here,” was inspired by Burwell and Mark Rothko, both color-field artists. I also like Jackson Pollock and a host of other artists.

Describe how your current body of work is inspired.

I am working on two bodies of work, which were inspired in different ways. The “Stay In Your Own Pane” series was both intuitive and deliberative. Initially, I only used black and white in a four-directional drip, resulting in a grid of panes or lanes. Not satisfied, I deliberately painted several colorful hues to give it some pop. This series is by far the most popular one to date. Woodson Reid, the [president of the Michigan chapter of the] National Conference of Artists, purchased [one of my paintings], and she suggested that I was on to something.

The second series, which utilizes a brush, consists of monochromatic colors that speak to titles of songs, movies, popular expressions, moods, emotions, spirituality, iconic people, places and things. For example, one in different shades of purple, titled “The Color Purple,” was an instant hit at a recent Torch of Wisdom Foundation/Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club live art auction, and several people have since requested one in the same or similar color. Who knew?

What’s on the horizon for you as an artist?

Currently, I am finishing up a book titled Hue: Intuition that showcases many of my collectors and the pieces they purchased. The book should be out in time for the holiday season. Also, I am currently gearing up for the Emerge Arts Festival which requires that I have the public vote for me daily [until] Nov. 22. It’s mostly for fun, but please have your readers vote for me. They can vote for me at if they feel so inclined.

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