Artist’s ‘Color Conversations’ at Encinitas Library fuses vocal and visual media


Intense colors, organic shapes, tactile and visual texture and a hint of a landscape are signature elements of the art created by Momilani Ramstrum.

Ramstrum’s collection of 18 paintings titled “Color Conversations” is on exhibit at the Encinitas Library Gallery, and everyone is invited to her opening reception from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, where there will be food, beverages, live music “and love,” she said.

Ramstrum will be presenting her West Coast premiere showcasing her combination of vocal improvisation and art. “The voice will improvise on the art and the art will improvise on the voice,” said Ramstrum, who is also a musician and inventor.

Using state-of-the-art technology, she has created, and holds the patent on, a MIDI (Musical Interface Device Instruction) wireless glove which she uses to control a computer that is able to capture her voice in real time.

The result is a presentation of the art, which has been captured digitally and is then projected onto a large 16-foot screen, combined with the voice which affects how it appears, transforming the pieces in “size, iteration, movement, direction and coloration.”

This innovative improvisation had its world premiere in New York in June, where it was very well received by a varied audience.

“This idea that brings an interplay between voice and art is something that is usually in separate dimensions, attracting separate people,” Ramstrum commented. As such, her presentation brought the two together, broadening its reach.

Ramstrum has been doing visual art since she was a child. “I especially loved the fluidity of watercolors,” she said. Today she is influenced by Kandinsky, Monet and Chagall. But her career direction as a young adult leaned toward the musical arts.

She has a Ph.D. in electronic music from UCSD and a master’s degree in musical composition from SDSU. Ramstrum now lives in Bonita, but her formative years were in Hawaii. She has also lived on the East Coast and spent time in Europe, going to college in England for a year.

Ramstrum’s latest art is innovative, a process that she has been working on for two years. She combines watercolor with found materials, which is a “very non-watercolor methodology,” she said. “I’m inventing techniques as I go along; the effect is very dimensional.”

She is influenced by nature and believes strongly that parts of our world speak to us.

Akin to being a child and believing that your dolls come alive when you aren’t looking, Ramstrum has the idea that trees walk, and “when you turn they are in slightly different positions than when you first came upon them.”

The relationship she has with her art is similar. “It’s like a dialog: As I am creating it, the art is creating me, too.” During the creative process, she is not doing discreet brush strokes. “I’m pouring paint, for the most part.”

Watercolor’s ability to transform as it gets wet allows Ramstrum to mix it with different media like salt, sand, glue and soap. “Its interactions are very dynamic and in a sense very lifelike,” she explained.

It is an idea that allows these “creative beings into our lives to speak for themselves,” she said.

Her resulting intuitive work comprises many layered-textures, enlivened by contrasting sections, and varied forms. Her use of color is “bold with entwined and distinctive, twists and complements.”

The end result is not known as she begins her piece, but her trust carries her through to the final touches. “I look at it like a choreographed dance, that all I know is the next step, but I do know when I’ve got to the end,” Ramstrum said.

“Color Conversations” will run through Oct. 19. Future presentations will take Ramstrum to Tokyo in November and Taiwan in December. Visit her online at

The Encinitas Library is at 540 Cornish Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024.