It was always going to be painting. I prepared myself for this fact not by painting, but by spending 17 years drawing almost constantly. Drawing, and looking at paintings—in galleries, in museums, and in the art books on the coffee table. In college, I took my first painting class and fell in love with oil paint. (Someone on a podcast was talking about “signature smells” recently—mine is definitely turpentine.) And yet, today, I paint almost exclusively in acrylics—originally because I didn’t want the oil and turpentine fumes in the house with my children, but now because I love the bright palette and the immediacy of acrylics. Even when my studio was outside of my home and I could paint in oil again (which I did), I kept gravitating back to acrylics.
A few years ago, I was thinking about these sort of abstract, noncontinuous, nonrepetitive patterns that would show up in my paintings, either around the primary images or building the primary images. I felt like I needed to spend time alone with just those marks and started a series on paper that I ended up calling Composite Rhythms. After an adventure involving raccoons and yellow goo dripping from the ceiling of my studio (it’s a long story), I had to put my materials in storage for a couple of months. After that enforced break from painting, this new series came pouring out—a group of gestural, linear, colorful abstract paintings based in bodily movement—clearly mine, yet different. It was amazing—just me, the brush, the paint, the canvas, putting colors next to colors. The first one was Dance of Discernment—the name came to me in a dream—and that seems appropriate, somehow, for these works.
I am a painter. Whatever I do, it always comes back to that. I love color and movement. Sometimes there is a reference to something recognizable: an imagined place, a mythical character, an animal, an action. Sometimes there is a more abstract reference to a motion or an emotion. These tend to be more invocation than evocation. I don’t think an artwork is really complete without viewers bringing their own experience to their perception of a piece. So, spend time with them, let your mind wander in and around and discover things, ask yourself about a particular mark. What it would feel like to make that mark? What does this color do next to that color? What does it mean when Medusa looks back over her shoulder and you catch the glint in her eye? What does it mean that a woman is whirling with multiple legs and two babies under her arms? Why do these lines jump this way around the canvas? Or coil up that way? What do you feel when you look into it? Feel the movement. Let your body wonder how it feels to create those shapes in the world. Feel the emotions that this painting brings up in you. Dance with me.