Creating to me is as essential as breathing. It allows me to access the highest version of myself. I believe it offers a chance at a longer life, deeper engagement with my family and friends, and an opportunity to give something back to the greater good. It brings me joy and self-knowledge, and in turn, puts something intrinsically good back into the world. I love being able to demonstrate this in front of my two girls. They see me living my truth and see me being myself, for better or worse. It's honest.
Since I was a child, I've loved to draw and paint. I had an insanely cool uncle from New York who was a formidable portrait painter. He recognized passion and talent in me for making art. He spent a lot of time with me when I was nine and ten years old, teaching me how to paint and handle the materials. One Christmas, he gave me everything I needed to begin an art practice-oil paints in every hue, canvas boards, an easel, brushes, a palette knife, linseed oil, and a pine painter's box to keep everything together. It still floors me to this day when I think about that gift—his time, his knowledge, the physical tools. He helped plant a seed that grows to this day.
How did I come up with this particular project I'm working on? This work is specifically for a small but significant solo show I've been offered this August in Dalaro, Sweden. I'll be working with my friend and curator, Kirsten Hinder @nordicstories. This is exciting as it will be the first international showing of my art.
My creative process for this project remains consistent with my recent practice. I work on a variety of sizes and substrates for my paintings—from 4 x 4" to 4 x 5' with plans to go larger. It's a challenge to expand and contract ideas like that, micro to macro, often on the same day! I've been working on one grouping called Land Escapes, and another called The Compass Series that seem to fit in tandem with each other-the Swedish paintings are almost a combination of those two series. With Compass, I’m trying to create an environment that floats in the air-- that feels like an island surrounded by white texture.
Land Escapes, in contrast, feel like a chunk of a pasture or cliff side hitting a water feature of some kind, contained by the boundaries of whatever I paint on. I'm trying to get a sense of land from various perspectives and viewpoints, almost with a cubist mindset at times, but with softer execution. I'm also trying to create a place in nature for myself to rest my own mind and eyes. I think many of us are nature-starved. Access to nature is a vital piece of our shared humanity and clearly, there is a fracture there. I am always thinking about our environment.
I start with everything laid out in front of me… Most of what I paint on will be 8 x 10” cradled wood panels, and there will be a few larger pieces -maybe a 12 x 16”, 16 x 20” etc. No matter the size, I always start by creating a dynamically shaped color anchor on each surface-usually with Prussian Blue, which is dark, lush and shadowy. I then build around that piece with different contrasting shades and I'll form at least one painting under what will be the finished surface. It seems I need to build up quite a bit of history underneath. When I revisited my painting practice in late 2016 after leaving it for years while raising my kids, I found it very gratifying (yet terrifying) to go back over some old pieces I had abandoned years ago in order to re-use materials I already had. Some of my recent paintings have been in my life one way or another for years! I like the idea of working to create a substantially larger piece based on an area within a smaller one… That is what I'm going to paint next.
Everyone loves some form of landscape – because we can relate to it—we *fit* within landscapes. It can be as figurative as you like, but I do enjoy the element of thick, beautiful paint in different shades and letting that abstracted application of a paint blob become a piece of land unto itself. I'm trying to imagine using larger and larger tools to create those components. How big can I get with a tool? What kind of lines and marks will it make? These questions keep me curious, and it's energizing to meditate on these ideas. My goal is to paint something until I notice it beginning to say something back to me. That takes time, but I trust it's all a part of my practice.
Do the work, do the work, do the work.
It's that simple, and that difficult.
When I give myself over to it, incredible things happen, and I steadily gather the confidence to continue this lifelong pursuit to make my art and put it out in the world, in my own way.