Recently I was asked to speak about one of my pastels that is presently included in a local juried exhibit. It’s more abstract than much of my work, and so I spoke about what lead up to this new approach and about exploration and risk taking without actually using either of those words. Clearly you can’t pursue one without the other and curiosity is not the province of the young but an ongoing necessity in the process of any artist at any age. Long ago I learned that the more I labored over being realistic and exact, the more flat my work became. The more I trusted to instinct and imagination the more I was able to express the mood, sought or unsought, and tap into the magical. Usually, however, I interpret living and organic things that have form and function in the real world– bodies, faces, rocks. In fact the piece I spoke about is called Lava I, and the forms and composition are inspired by a large chunk of lava rock I recently photographed in Costa Rica. I like having a jumping off place like this, but in trying to better understand the abstract work of others, I’m presently exploring what it’s like to have no jumping off place at all.
Working smaller than usual to allow for more experimentation in a short space of time, I continue to draw on things known to me – rhythm, color theory, line, value – while relying heavily on elements employed in other areas of my life, particularly poetry, where I have sometimes relied on nuance and the fantastic. In trying to understand the work of others, I’m learning a great deal about my own work; in allowing myself to continue to explore, I am opening up a world of new directions.