If I call myself an artist, what does that mean? I am not simply creative…I’m not particularly “crafty”…I’m not even sure if I’m terribly inventive. For me, the definition goes much deeper. I am expressive in every facet of my creative practice, and this is something I attempt to tap into pretty much every single day of my life. I say try, but I think I should say that I just do. My practice is innate. It is a part of me. To clarify the “try” part, I would just say that I consider the way that I approach my work to be a pure transference of energy, kind of like putting a meditation on canvas. With a million distractions all around me, the “try” part is just holding a lock on the energy of each piece I create. This can become an incredible challenge, especially while maintaining children!
So, speaking of challenges and distractions, I am thinking now about how disruptive these things can become and how those moments have impacted my practice over the years. Maybe I have a little “Type A” in me, but I cannot just sit around and do nothing. I am not a wallower. If life has gotten into my head, and I struggle getting myself to the energetic place I need to be in order to work on a painting, I do something else. So in the case of my work, this has led to the various other media I am now known to work with.
The next block inevitably came, and I believe that was when I experimented with using some handmade paper I had in the studio and played with a concept I had floating in my head about combining something inherently rough, organic and imperfect, with something glitzy like GOLD. This concept derived from how we (as flawed, imperfect beings) get up and put nice things on ourselves—maybe a little lipstick—and head out to face the day. Despite the inner difficulties that have shaped us, we try and look our best. And thus, the gilded ladies arrived. I love them so much for the elegant simplicity.
Sculpture was probably the biggest stretch. I had no idea how to integrate it into my oeuvre, but I really wanted to bring my figures into the third dimension. I bought some clay and began molding and shaping it into a figure. If I went too large, they collapsed, so I began constructing armatures. And then, I discovered that the core—the armature—is where I really felt drawn. I love the way the light and space can pass through the wire that creates wonderful shadow play; it’s like the inner workings of all of us. These really satisfy my love of working with my hands, as I pull and weave the wire to shape the figures the way I want. This, to me, was a perfect segue, and it really has helped me to keep my overall practice fluid.
When blocked, I often explore previous bodies of work, and this time I dug pretty deep. I went back to my “self-portrait” series, where working with a palette knife first began, and I created this brand-new piece. I believe her to be an important piece for me. I know she is quite different from what my audience used to seeing from me.
When I’m stuck and I want to stay focused on oil painting, I tap into the many artists, from the very obvious to pretty obscure, that influence what I do. First and foremost, would be the Bay Area Figuratives—a movement of California artists who depicted the figure in a very expressive way—with the use of color, texture, and blending—all of which really move me. Specific artists include anyone from Keith Haring, to Jean-Michel Basquiat, to Gerhard Richter. My takeaway from any and all of them is their ability to convey so much through their works. I aspire to capture that visceral and emotional response, which inspires me so, in anyone who encounters my work.
Exorcising demons…working through complicated emotions…trying to keep my practice fluid and energetically pure… While I work, these are all things that go through my mind and certainly prove important in remaining “unblocked” as an artist. I can express so much with texture, color, and mark making; and it’s all done in my own special “code”. I genuinely believe that the ability in life to have something that allows for this kind of expression is such a tremendous gift.
What’s next? I don’t know, I guess…but I love that I allow myself to continue exploring and evolving. I think that if I consciously tried to lock myself into only one way of working (and thinking?) that THAT would make me miserable!