Shine On

Amy Dixon’s colorful mixed-media works sparkle with joyful spirit


Mixed-media artist Amy Dixon is one of those rare individuals who has managed to hold on to her authentic self and a genuine sense of joy, curiosity and creativity throughout her life. All of it—the authenticity and vitality—is contagious.

Hot Mess, mixed media on canvas, 48″ x 36″

Dixon is represented by Hagan Fine Art Gallery & Studio in Charleston and is one of the gallery’s most sought-after artists. “Her spirit shines through in her creations in a most unusual but lovely way,” gallery owner Karen Hewitt Hagan says.

“Amy goes above and beyond creating just for herself. Her work is a true testament to her heart, but she wants to connect with her collectors and give them what touches their hearts, too,” says gallery director Allison Hull.

Free Spirit (diptych), mixed media on canvas, 48″ x 48″

My theory is there is such true joy in Dixon’s artwork that it transmits on a quantum level long after the varnish is dry. Here’s an example: Over the years, Dixon painted a series of chandeliers. Why? Because they’re pretty. The magic in her work is that she never digs deeper than that first instinct. The result isn’t a painting of a chandelier; it’s a painting of a chandelier and all of the beautiful things we associate with chandeliers: A lovely room, the clink of glasses, elegant dresses, relaxed conversation, sparkly jewelry and one of those nights that we might remember for the rest of our lives. These elements aren’t on the canvas, but they don’t have to be. Dixon gives us the prompt, and our imaginations rush to pile on more happy associations. It’s a masterful skill.

Even So, mixed media on canvas, 24″ x 24″

The artist creates abstract paintings of whatever grabs her attention—whether it’s animals, landscapes and florals, interiors, champagne bottles, wine glasses, oyster shells, architecture or a tube of lipstick next to a teed-up golf ball. She is currently fixated on the beets her neighbor pulled from the garden. Dixon says she likes to paint arbitrary things, but what she’s doing is subconsciously identifying objects or vistas that we associate with fun, beauty or joy and serving them up to us via expertly executed artworks that leave a lingering impression.

“Her work tells a different story each time you see it,” Hull says. “I see Amy’s paintings as a reflection of her. Her personality is as bright, energetic and passionate as each piece.”

One Moment, mixed media on canvas, 24″ x 48″

Dixon is a formally trained painter via a full-ride scholarship to Newcomb College of Tulane University in New Orleans. She then went on to study in Florence, Italy, at Studio Arts Central International (SACI), where she met her mentor and lifelong friend, artist Jules Madoff. Under his guidance, the artist’s penchant for trusting her instinct flourished. “Jules is the most imaginative, creative, non-rule follower in how he goes about artwork,” Dixon says. “Artistically, studying in Florence provided enormous inspiration.”

In addition to acrylics, the artist mixes her own glazes, uses gel mediums, oil pastels, pastels, ink and paint markers in her work. She prefers nontraditional tools such as cut-up credit cards and cheap paintbrushes from the hardware store, which she often hacks with scissors to create a unique texture. “I follow my intuition; I definitely don’t follow technique,” she says. “I know my materials, how paint is going to behave, what is transparent, what isn’t and what to layer.”

Veuve On, mixed media on canvas, 24″ x 12″

Dixon has an important point. As playful as she is in execution, it’s grounded in a deep and wide bedrock of education and experience. “I firmly believe you earn the right to be a mature abstract artist,” she says. “You have to have a mastery of draftsmanship, light and spatial relations. It doesn’t just happen.” That mastery, combined with her unique spirit, equals everything you want in a work of art.

Hagan Fine Art has represented Dixon since it opened its doors. Last year, the gallery transitioned to being open exclusively online, a business model that’s been highly successful. As Hagan Fine Art’s longtime director, Hull offers personalized consultation and service, as does Natalie Meredith, the gallery’s
longtime online marketing specialist. The gallery represents more than 30 well-known, award-winning impressionistic and abstract artists from Charleston and around the world. Over the years, Dixon has done special commissions for many of the gallery’s clients. “Amy’s paintings have brightened so many of our clients’ homes,” Hagan says. “We absolutely love placing her amazing work.” *

Robin Howard is a full-time freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at

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