To learn and understand the premise of abstract painting, I found it more interesting to start with a basic idea and theme for the pieces I was creating. These paintings are dealing with the physical impact of anxiety attacks, specifically within the stomach and the mind. The overwhelming feeling of an anxiety attack is as if your body and mind cannot stop. The inner workings of the body are both messy and dirty; the person affected has scattered thoughts and is unable to focus on one subject. The paintings are intended to be dark, dingy, and dead, but still active; almost completely worn out, but not yet.
I want the space in the paintings to be active and unsettled. The earlier versions of my paintings looked more like topographic maps of a landscape, or the inner workings of the human system. The space is crowded and claustrophobic. Within the contours of the paint, one can find new and surprising forms.
The two major factors that appear in all of my work are light and surface. My paintings are internally lit. The light resembles an inner light of human consciousness, which comes from behind the focal points. The light is dark and comes from within the paintings, most of it coming from the collage. Within the purple shapes the light is absent, except for the radiance that is created from the surrounding shades of green. The newer paintings are brighter and livelier, but the light still comes from behind or inside of the action.
I had my breakthrough when I was inspired by the illuminating quality of Philip Guston’s abstract gridded color paintings. He paints with a varied color palette of different temperatures of either one or two colors. He gathers similar colors together and applies the paints in a cross-hatching motion to create a shimmering light effect on the surface of the canvas. In my drawing and sculpture I am incredibly drawn to the cross-hatching technique because of the meditative quality of the action. Being able to translate this to my painting allowed me to understand the material in a way that I could not beforehand.
As for the color, I have been using different temperatures of white, but moving more into using varied grays, as well. The main focus of the composition has either darker or stronger color patches. I used Guston’s work as the basis for the color palette I was already drawn to.
All of my paintings have an extreme amount of surface texture. My main goal for my paintings and sculpture is to get viewers to move up close and say, “Whoa! How did she do that? I wonder if I can get away with touching it!” Whether it is a texture from collage or built up paint, I want the canvas to be covered with interesting value changes because of the external topography. I look at a canvas as a piece of contoured earth waiting to be discovered.
Exploring abstract painting has been a new experience for me, but after combining the familiar with the unfamiliar, I was able to create a more dynamic picture plain for the viewer to enjoy.