The title, “Simply Not”, occurred to me early on during the two years it took me to prepare for this exhibition. As I began each new work, the early chaotic stages pushed me to ask and answer an endless string of questions which guided each mark, brushstroke, color, and shape. As each painting evolved, I realized how truly orchestrated and finely tuned it had become by the time I considered it finished. Though abstraction may appear as a nonsensical, easy, thoughtless, and simple way of slapping paint on, it is “simply not”. For me, the painting process creates a challenging conversation between surface and subconscious that is loud and unsettling when there is discord and disagreement between what is felt and hoped for, versus what lies before me.
As problems are resolved, the conversation eventually becomes quiet, but only after many crescendos and decrescendos of the malleable surface. My ultimate goal is to push out of my comfort zone to discover something new about myself, life, or the world around me, and to evoke an emotional response through a visual history of manipulated layers. I continue to reach from within to express what for me is often better expressed through abstraction and experimentation. Multiple layers capture snapshots of time, experience, happiness, frustration, i.e., life. Art and life are intertwined and are “Simply Not” simple, straightforward, predictable, or easy.
My title took on another meaning on July 31st, 2016, when our home, my studios, and much artwork burned to the ground in the Roaring Lion fire (Hamilton, MT). Suddenly, the physical manifestations of our lives were wiped out and became “simply not”. From the ashes, from this deep hole created in our lives, we had to climb out and begin again. Like my inwardly focused artistic process, we had to build not from concrete foundations or a well-defined path; the canvas was blank and layer by layer our now-abstracted lives began to create new histories.
The work that followed gained new meaning and purpose from the experience of loss, hope, and perseverance. Ashes and transformed pieces of metal became new tools which brought with them vital inspiration for this exhibition. The art I created shortly after the fire synchronized with emotions I felt during the forty-five minutes our family had to grab what we could before leaving our home forever. The experience of loss is a familiar feeling in the studio as well. I obliterate passages that I once loved and was attached to in order to push toward something stronger, for there are lessons to be learned from letting go of parts to make a stronger whole. During the three months that followed the fire I found solace in a rented studio, and peace in knowing the loss of “things” does not equal the loss of creativity or life.
I choose to paint and draw in a variety of mediums to challenge myself and ensure that I will always have new problems to solve, as well as multiple ways to express myself. I am inspired when, with paint, I make discoveries of my inner world from the inside out. I rely almost wholly on an intuitive and expressive approach that juxtaposes opposing elements: opaque and transparent, organic and geometric, textured and smooth, large and small, dark and light.
COLD WAX AND OIL
Rather than literal renderings of my environment, I strive to create emotional content. Being surrounded by mountains, valleys, forests and sunlit meadows is a great inspiration to the senses, but when I paint, my colors, surfaces and tools entice me to explore the unknown. Rather than paint what I see and understand, I paint without knowing and hope I will discover something. I strive for a finished painting that expresses something that can’t be verbalized, only visualized and experienced. My hope for “Simply Not” is that the audience will find something of themselves they too could not verbalize, only visualize and experience.