My paintings and prints are largely inspired by the work of some of my favourite writers, especially those of Rainer Maria Rilke and Fernando Pessoa. One of Rilke’s images that has stuck with me in particular is in his Letters to a Young Poet, where he writes about the necessity of solitude - to “walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours.” Pessoa has a similar idea in his Book of Disquiet where he writes that “recognizing our sensations ... we take refuge there, exploring them like large unknown countries.” I love these images of a vast world inside each of us, waiting to be explored like a lost underground city, and view my work as small reflections of these inner landscapes - the organic, tangled lines hinting at veins and the interconnections between us. Rilke also writes that “most experiences are ‘unsayable’ – they happen in a time and space no word has ever entered.” As an abstract painter whose language is color and line, this definitely resonates with me – I love the ambiguity of marks and washes on canvas, how they can signify nothing and hold multiple meanings simultaneously.
The materials I work with play a big role in what inspires me and how I create. For the past eight years I’ve had the pleasure of being an educator for a paint company based in upstate New York, and this role has very much influenced my work – from learning about the history and chemical makeup of my pigments, to constantly experimenting as new products are made. My materials play an active role in the way my pieces develop - besides some preliminary choices of starting colors, I don’t plan pieces ahead of time, preferring to work very loosely and respond to how my materials move and interact in each layer. I enjoy adding an element of chance to my work – a problem I need to explore and solve. Whether throwing paint or pushing around color, I work almost entirely with my hands as I like the immediacy of working without tools.
To create my paintings, I combine black paint with an acrylic medium the consistency of honey, pick it up by the handful, and throw it at the canvas. Once dry, I use fluid acrylics to build up my color, using mainly modern pigments that have a high transparency and glossiness. These combine and pool within the raised lines, and I do anywhere from three to twelve layers of color on each piece, finishing it off with an acrylic pour. In my printmaking, I explore the same themes of inner workings and tangled connections through color and line, but create my images through monoprinting. I roll slow-drying acrylic paint onto a gelatin plate, pressing different textures into it and printing the resulting marks onto rice paper. I love this process because the possibilities are endless, and I am constantly on the hunt for random textures I can experiment with, from kitchen tools to lace tablecloths.