The MoCA presents
an interview with
The MoCA conducts interviews with prominent artists who have gained wide recognition, as well as emerging artists who have shown exceptional potential in their fields. The published interviews help our readers learn about some of the most promising artistic voices of our times.
The MoCA conducted an in-depth interview with artist Gayle Printz. Analyzing the process that lets her create such flurry of works, she shares her thoughts on what the future likely holds for her. The mood of the interview was conversational and so has been lightly edited for relevance and clarity.
I had no formal, or even informal, training before picking up a paintbrush. I only had inspiration.
The MoCA > Hello, and welcome to THE MAGAZINE OF CONTEMPORARY ART! We'll be covering a lot of ground, so we encourage our readers to visit your profile page on our website to marvel at your abstract expressionist works.
The MoCA > First, give us some idea about who you are and what you do.
Thank you for having me. To be selected by The MoCA for recognition is a great honor. I am very grateful.
My name is Gayle Printz, and I live in Atlanta. I retired from the practice of law very early to raise our three children. Over the years, I have written several children’s books. In a year without COVID, not a week would go by in which I did not spend time with my 93-year-old father. I never would have missed a milestone occasion with my family. I would have traveled with my husband and children to experience different cultures, enjoy each other’s company, and make happy memories. I would have gone to the store and picked out my own fruit. And, I would have visited the ocean and slept with the windows open.
Since May of 2020, I have devoted myself to painting.
Acrylic on Canvas
The jury loved my work. But, before selecting it, they had no clue I began painting two months before. Or, that "First" was literally my first painting — ever.
The MoCA > We know you’re self-taught. Yet, has there ever been some sort of formal training that you’ve gone through before picking up your brush?
I had no formal, or even informal, training before picking up a paintbrush. I only had inspiration. But, to be fair, I havebeen surrounded by the arts all my life. Growing up, I spent two months every summer at a Fine Arts Camp, Interlochen Arts Academy, in Interlochen, Michigan. Although I was mostly engaged in playing piano, I was definitely influenced by the creativity I experienced there. At home, my mother was a painter, my father played piano, one of my sisters writes music, and my other sister was a sculptor. So, I grew up in a creative atmosphere and have always been moved by beautiful art, beautiful music, and people who work hard to express and share their feelings through artistic endeavors.
Artistically, I come from a different place than most artists but, somehow, it seems to work. I sometimes look at art as a combination of writing and playing a musical instrument. I tell a story using color in a free form of expression, just as a pianist might improvise a solo using different musical keys. I go where the music takes me.
The MoCA > You have reached your artistic career much later than most conventional artists. What was it that triggered the flame of creativity in you, and how did you decide whether to channel that into your visual arts or some other equally creative endeavor?
I think the flame of creativity was always inside me. I was drawn to painting because it was something I had wanted to do. I simply never had the time to devote myself to it because of family responsibilities. When I found myself with an abundance of time because of the mandatory regulations to Shelter-in-Place during COVID-19, I wanted to channel my energy into something creative that I could undertake without socializing. I began painting because I felt the need to bring lightness and beauty back into a world that was interrupted.
I throw my heart on that canvas. I gain inspiration from everything: what is happening in my life and the world around me.
Acrylic on Canvas
The MoCA > In your before-life, when you hadn’t become the full-blown artist that you’re today, did you ever think about pursuing an artistic career?
I never thought of pursuing a career in the arts—just as I never thought of pursuing a career writing children’s books. I wrote them because I began seeing fewer and fewer traditional books in the world. Everything was online. So, I wanted to write books which necessitated turning a page. And, my vision of that was children’s books—the sweet little picture books you read to a small child while holding them on your lap. Writing was my creative outlet. It was something that comes easily to me and I love doing. It is also something that can be done in stages; I could easily put it down when daily responsibilities kicked in.
Artwork is similar in that it also tells a story. The difference is, when I am painting and those responsibilities unexpectedly kick in, I am left standing with paint all over everything, including my face, my hair, and my golden retriever. Before I can do anything, there are paintbrushes, walls, floors, ceilings, and paws to clean, clothes to change and thoughts to record. If you could see all the pretty colors on my light switches and doorknobs, you would laugh.
Even though I did not begin painting to pursue an artistic career, art is entwined in my life. It somehow embodies everyday life and what is going on in the world. When there were feelings I needed to explore and express during the pandemic, I bought art supplies. Now, that I am a full-fledged artist, it is my hope that when someone looks at one of my paintings, it captures their eye, it captures their interest, and it creates an intrigue and value that differs from what they might usually see and feel. I want to be a necessary addition to the Art World, and the only way I can do that is by being who I am.
The MoCA > Just looking at the breadth and scale of your works is sure to make one realize how passionate you must be about the subject. We certainly understand passion, but how did you manage to go from zero to sixty in a matter of months?
Short answer: COVID-19 quarantine regulations
Long Answer: Ksenia Milicevic and The 2020 International Art-Resilience Exhibition
On July 13, 2020, while looking for a way to archive my ever-growing art portfolio, I happened upon a call for artists entitled Art-Resilience. Thinking it was about being resilient during the pandemic, I sent ten pictures of different paintings to eight of my most encouraging fans: one Art Historian, two artists, one publicist, and four art enthusiasts. I told them I was thinking of entering a competition in which the theme was resilience and the stated purpose in selecting artwork was "to present works characterizing the rigor in a search for artistic quality, creativity and technical mastery." I then asked them to rate the paintings in order of preference.
I could only submit two paintings for consideration by the jury. I tallied the votes and sent photographs of "First" and "Pond." It was the first competition I entered, and all I had to do was email my name, address, and pictures of two paintings. There was no entry fee unless my work was selected. There was no commission involved. Previous exhibitions were beautifully curated. In short, I simply saw no downside to applying.
The deadline was July 15, and that is when I sent my submission. A few hours later, I got an email from the extremely talented artist/architect, Ksenia Milisevic, requesting my photo for their website. Knowing she was the Founder of the Museum where the exhibition was to be held, I asked her if that meant one of my paintings was accepted. She said, "Yes, of course. They are perfect. Both of them."
I was thrilled and immediately sent her the only picture I had of myself. She then asked me for the name of my website. I sheepishly told her that I didn’t have one. My husband, who lucky for me is a great photographer, then took pictures of my work and posted them on Smugmug.com. I gave Ms. Milicevic the link. She very gently informed me that although my artworks looked beautiful on SmugMug, I should set up a storefront website before the August 8th Exhibition because collectors would want to see all of my work. Setting up that website was the most difficult part of my artistic experience. So difficult in fact, it will always have a disclaimer reading “This website is under construction,” just in case something is terribly wrong with it. So far, so good. But, the disclaimer will remain. Although I am thrilled to have it, that website took up so much time I didn’t have time to enter another competition until the end of September.
Back to your question:
Ms. Milicevic then asked me for my C.V. for their website, and I, once again sheepishly, told her I didn't have one. She very gently told me to send her what I had and she would work with it. I sent her a "C.V." with my education, past jobs, the titles of books I have written, all the Bar Associations from which I am retired and, realizing she wanted information relating to my artistic background, I included my eight summers at Interlochen Arts Academy. As that only amounted to two pages, I put in photos of my artwork. Ms. Milicevic was very pragmatic. She took out everything law-related, all of my work experience, and all the photographs of my paintings, and posted my education, Interlochen, and the names of my books.
Ms. Milicevic walked me through every step of the process of becoming an actual artist. When I was stuck on a painting, I would email it to her and ask her what was missing. She was incredibly constructive. The best part of our relationship, besides the relationship itself, was the way in which Ms. Milicevic inspired me to simply be myself. She thought I had a very distinctive style such that, at some point, when people saw my work they would recognize it as mine.
To me, there is no greater compliment—no more liberating advice—I could have received. I cannot be anyone else. I do not want to be anyone else. Ksenia Milicevic freed my spirit and gave me the confidence to become the painter I was meant to become. And, she left me with a website, which I suspect she checks on, because the Museum Commission in France voted in November to put my work in their Permanent (physical) Exhibit at Le Musée de Peinture de Saint-Frajou in France. When COVID-19 is behind us, you will find me on an airplane to Paris to see the woman who took me under her wing without expecting anything other than watching my future success unfold, in return.
End of the long story:
As it turns out, the Art-Resilience Competition had absolutely nothing to do with COVID. It was the coveted 2020 International Art-Resilience Competition that is held yearly as part of The International Art-Resilience Movement founded by Ksenia Milicevic. And, although I thought at the time that I must have been one of the few that applied to the competition, it turns out they were overwhelmed by applications, and I was one of only eight American painters whose work was selected for the Exhibition. The jury loved my work. But, before selecting it, they had no clue I began painting two months before. Or, that "First" was literally my first painting—ever. The whole experience was akin to being on "The Voice" with artwork. All that mattered was the quality of those two paintings. It is really the way things should be. But, I have been told it is highly unusual for a museum or gallery to be receptive to anyone other than an established artist.
After that, I was offered several solo exhibitions which I declined because the offers came during a time at which I thought no one should be anywhere other than home. But, I was written up in a three-page newspaper article dedicated to my artwork. That article, a few more online articles, and the forty-two online exhibitions for which my work was selected, all gave me great national and international exposure.
And, that is how I went from zero to sixty in such a short time.
Serendipity at its finest.
Acrylic on Canvas
I have sold nineteen paintings directly from my website and another twelve to fifteen privately. I have been extremely lucky. Some paintings were even sold within hours of being posted on my website.
The MoCA > What keeps you ticking? Do you think you’ll ever get tired of working almost nonstop towards your newfound profession?
My heart, both literally and figuratively. I throw my heart on that canvas. I gain inspiration from everything: what is happening in my life and the world around me. The pandemic forced me to isolate and look inward. I chose to reflect upon and interpret the beauty that remained.
As I am what you might refer to as a blank slate, I can be myself when I paint. Without fear, I can lose myself in a painting. I do not have anyone else’s style to unlearn in order to express my own. I consider this a big plus. It gives me the freedom to make the painting completely my own without expectation or judgment. When there are no rules to follow the possibilities become endless. So, for me, there is great freedom in painting.
The fact that so many people in the art world think I’m a success is a bit shocking. I never even thought I would show anyone my work. But once I did, the viewer’s excitement was so motivating that, for their sake, I pushed myself to engage in the business side. As I am a bit camera shy, I don’t think I would be promoting my art if the online platforms didn’t exist. At first the platform is anonymous, but the next day I end up engaging with some of the most generous talented people I have ever known. There are so many talented artists out there whose only goal seems to be supporting other artists by providing a platform through which we can show our work.
If there is a silver lining in the pandemic, it belongs to those who used this time to grow by discovering what’s inside of them. When hard work is recognized it ceases to be hard. It creates a real sense of freedom to find out who you really are.
Now to answer your second question… At this rate, if I get tired, I may run out of paintings. I feel I have found my calling and a very private way to express myself. I may be forced to slow down when we get through the pandemic, but I will never get tired of painting. To try something new and realize you love it is one thing. But, to gain the recognition of experts in the field is thrilling. I have been extremely fortunate that the Art World feels I have a contribution to make. The more I feel my work is considered worthy of all the attention I have been getting, the more I want to translate the colors of my world into art.
The MoCA > The permanent collection of your artworks by museums in France has likely given you a jolt to continue to produce. Do you feel pressured – even if it’s to yourself – to keep up with the curator’s expectations?
I do not feel pressured at all—from the inside or the outside. Most likely, it is because I don’t paint because I have to. I am lucky enough to be able to paint because I want to. No one needs to pressure me. They need only look at my website to know I already want to paint as often as possible. The Museum Commissioners in France, who approved my work for inclusion in the Museum’s permanent exhibit, seem to have only my best interests at heart. The fact that persons of their artistic stature are interested in ensuring I have an artistic future, and think I have something to contribute to the art world, provides all the inspiration I need to continue on this unexpected path.
The MoCA > Are you ever working to meet a deadline – real or imagined – in the creative process?
Even when someone commissions a painting, I do not paint with a deadline in mind. Painting is all about the freedom to create. Deadlines would interfere with that freedom. That is not to say collectors are kept waiting. Quite the opposite. I get lost in what I am doing and lose all sense of time when I paint. I cannot tell you how many times, at noon, I begin painting what I hope might become a masterpiece and, when I get to a stopping point, it is 5:30 in the morning. I never look at the clock because, for me, creating something meaningful is an intense process in which time ceases to exist.
The MoCA > In the art world, the ultimate success story is when you can sell your works with some regularity. It’s not been too long since you embarked upon this, but have you sold anything significant thus far?
Yes. My work has proven to be marketable. I have sold nineteen paintings directly from my website and another twelve to fifteen privately. I have been extremely lucky. Some paintings were even sold within hours of being posted on my website. This is more than I dreamed. In fact, I never intended to sell anything. And, at first I got a bit too attached to my work; I would let people see it, but not buy it. After I opened myself up to the idea of spreading the beauty by letting it go, the response was overwhelming.
Those to whom I sell my paintings come from varied backgrounds: collectors, investors professionals, art lovers, and friends. I haven’t had an opportunity to meet most of my clients because so few are local. But my interactions have been touching. Every single time someone buys my work, I am humbled and thrilled. I love hearing the excitement in their voices when clients receive their paintings and call me from faraway places to say how connected they feel to their new investment. And, there may be no greater compliment than when they return for more because my work has touched them so powerfully. Why am I surprised? Because, when I began painting, it didn’t occur to me that sales and international recognition would be part of my artistic experience.
...To me, the meaning of my work has to be left to the viewer who, instead of trying to figure out what I was thinking when I created the piece, must be willing to consider what it means to them.
Acrylic on Canvas
The MoCA > There’s a raw emotion evident in your art, but when you look closer, there’s much more than that. What do the galleries have to sell about your art? Have you interacted with art lovers who’ve commented upon your works?
Galleries have a set of objective factors they can rely on to sell my art and another set of subjective artistic factors that will draw collectors to the work itself. Objectively, as people are often cautious relying on their own judgment when buying art and jewelry, the gallery needs to be confident that the artworks they sell will increase in value. So, the artist’s reputation is important. As my last name is not Picasso, to sell my artwork, galleries will want to rely on the overwhelming positive feedback I have already received from influential people in the Art World: other galleries, collectors, artists, museum curators, art historians, art publications, art critics (who, luckily, have not been at all critical), art lovers and the public.
One measure of that feedback can be found in the number of paintings I have already sold in the short time I have been painting. Other objective measures include the number and quality of Juried International and National Awards I have won and the Exhibitions my work has been in as a result (forty-two), the number of paintings that have won one or more awards (twenty-six), the public response in terms of dedicated media publications and, perhaps most notably, the fact that the Museum Commission of Le Musée de Peinture de Saint-Frajou voted to add my work to their Permanent Physical Exhibit in France. I have heard this is highly unusual.
Subjectively, for some, it can be a challenge to get past the distractions inherent in abstract art because the meaning is not as defined for the viewer as it might be in the work of classic painters. But, when you are able to embrace being in an unfamiliar world, there is a richness and tranquility that can fill your soul. Although my work is not purely abstract, it does create a non-literal view of the world. It allows me to explore freedom of expression in an untraditional way and, by doing so, that freedom of thought—freedom to develop your own opinion—is transferred to the viewer. That is why, to me, the meaning of my work has to be left to the viewer who, instead of trying to figure out what I was thinking when I created the piece, must be willing to consider what it means to them.
It can be challenging to explore your own feelings about a work of art. But, luckily, those who invest in my paintings are a sophisticated bunch. They seem to instinctively realize that assigning meaning to any work of art involves a bit of self-discovery. The only limitations are your imagination and willingness to explore what is inside of you.
When I began painting, I never anticipated anyone would see my work. I started painting to express my feelings privately. My goal evolved as it became apparent my work would be seen, but that hasn’t changed my process. Early on, an important artist I know was taken aback by my work. He told me I was extremely talented. As he is not one to give out false compliments—or, any compliments at all really—I explored what it was that made him say that. His comments were constructive and inspiring. Feedback is particularly important when you are just starting out.
After my paintings were in the Art-Resilience Exhibition in Europe, word seemed to spread like wildfire. Articles were written and art lovers in Atlanta sought me out to ask if they could come see my work. I was not yet ready to part with most of it, but I welcomed the feedback. To get that feedback was an exercise in Covid-avoidance. I would invite them to put on their hazmat suits (not really, but almost) and come on a pretty day. They were directed to park and walk down the outdoor steps where, twenty feet away, I could be found double-masked dragging paintings out of a nearby door for them to see.
Even through masks their excitement was palpable.They would consistently say things like they were “Bowled over” or ”Blown away.” The first viewer who set eyes on "Together" was so awestruck all he could manage to say was, “Man. I could look at this forever.” I could have, too. Until recently, “Together” was strategically placed within view so I could study it. Hence, the title “Together.” I have eased up on parting with my work and, in the end, that particular art lover settled on buying two other works. But, my point is that watching and feeling the viewer’s guttural reaction is extremely helpful. It was also telling when I asked viewers individually what they thought might be missing from a work I wasn’t certain was complete and the answer was almost always, “Your signature.” It may be that people from Atlanta are very concise. Or, it may be that is all I heard. But, when I let people view my work, being part of that experience is amazing.
In the midst of all this, I somehow acquired an international fan base. I began receiving solicitations and words of praise from all over the world. People contact me with accolades and share my work through their social media accounts. Artists even call asking for artistic direction. Collectors have told me my paintings brought them “back to life.” Still in a state of cautious shock, I tend to think they are referring to the calming effects of art in general. But, then, I receive notification they bought another painting. Just the other day, my husband’s business contact from China emailed to say she saw my work and was incredibly impressed. Not being conversant with the power of the internet, I still cannot quite figure out how my paintings reached the other side of the world. But, as this happens frequently, often resulting in the sale of my work, I can only say that the online platform is anything but anonymous.
Most recently, my life has been touched by talented individuals whose only goal is to promote other artists. Because COVID-19 shut down so may brick and mortar art galleries, online platforms are being developed to put together competitions and curate exhibitions. As I am a bit camera-shy, and not the least bit web savvy, I don’t think I would engage in promoting my work if these online platforms didn’t exist. But, because of them, I end up engaging with some of the most talented, unselfish individuals I have ever encountered.
One day, while trying to enter a juried international competition, I had some technical difficulties of my own making. I emailed the information link for help and received an immediate response. I had no clue with whom I was corresponding, but whoever it was knew of my work, was encouraging and showed such an unheard of amount of interest in me as both an artist and a person that we began to correspond. I felt that the faceless, nameless person answering emails had taken me under both wings to promote my budding success. I was taken with the unselfish drive of the person behind the email address and that person was taken with my paintings.
As it turned out, I was communicating with Dr. Niladri Sarker, Cofounder and CEO of Art Show International, a beautifully curated platform through which artists can showcase their work. As I am certain Art Show International is on the verge of becoming one of the leading art websites, I am beyond thrilled that the vastly accomplished Dr. Sarker has taken such an interest in my work. He has gone so far as to call me an amazing artist. But, the truth is that without individuals like Dr. Sarker, artists like me would rarely have a chance of success.
Lately, every day my work is on exhibit somewhere. I receive invitations to show my work nationally and internationally. I receive overwhelming positive feedback from those I have not yet been lucky enough to meet, and I still cannot believe what has been happening in my life since I began painting. I don’t think the recognition will ever stop surprising me.
The MoCA > “First,” in our view, is one of the most mature of your works. The name itself as an adjective seems to insinuate that this is something beyond a work of pure abstraction. What made you come up with that name, and what have you tried to signify?
Actually…I always try to name my paintings something that will immediately bring forth their image in my mind. Naturally, this has become more important over time, as I have been so prolific. But, “First” was my first painting. So, I named it “First.” My titles usually only have significance to me. Or, I use them as a point of intrigue. In fact, many of my titles are purposely misleading so the viewer will look twice and think, “That isn’t a lamb”—or whatever the painting is named. By doing this, the viewer is motivated to enter the painting if only to prove me wrong. The end result is that the viewer has enough interest to spend time trying to figure out what the title should have been. In essence, this is the same thing as having the viewer assign their own meaning to my work. And, for the viewer to find meaning in my work is all I really want.
“First” is a complex painting. I was trying to create a synchronicity between that which is both objectively beautiful and that which has a universal context. In all my work, I try to create a painting that speaks to the viewer, invites them into the painting, welcomes them, and provokes them to draw on their emotional memories and imagination to assign context that makes the work meaningful to them. To me, with any piece of artwork, the viewer’s thoughts trump the artist’s. After all, as artists (and, as people), we may be able to draw someone in, but we cannot tell anyone what to think.
One way or another figures, faces and forms come through to guide my work. Sometimes, you have to look a bit more closely for them than other times. But, they are there.
The MoCA > Typically, how long does it take for you to complete a painting from start to finish? Take “First” for instance, how long did that take you?
That is a difficult question to answer because I lose all track of time when I paint. It often takes an enormous amount of time to create a meaningful work, but I literally have no idea how long “First” took to complete. It could have been weeks. I just worked on it until I was afraid to ruin it.
Pinning down an exact answer with respect to “First,” or any of my paintings, is complicated by the fact that, with abstract art, it can be difficult to know when you are done. I often spend days on end looking at a painting from every angle to see what is going on inside from each direction. Quite often a painting has context from more than one angle. So, I fine tune it by bringing to the forefront what strikes me as most important or distinctive. Or, in the case of many of my paintings, I concentrate on whatever seems to be trying to emerge. It is not an exact science, especially in my case. And, the time I spend varies depending on the piece. “Together” and “Look” took what seemed like forever. As did “Pigtails“ and “Salamander.”
The answer to your question also depends on what you mean by “start to finish.” Do I count drying time of the painting and archival coats? The drying time is one reason I usually work on several pieces at a time. “First” is an exception. As my first painting, it was the only piece I was working on. I just began painting and images began to surface—as though they might be trying to visit from inside the canvas—not in a creepy way, but rather in an interesting way. It gave me direction as to where I should go with the painting. This may be why art experts sometimes say, “Gayle Printz is coming out of the abstract.” The truth is, I am not coming out of the abstract. The unexpected strangers are. I just concentrate on allowing it all to happen.
It was fascinating when I noticed this happening with “First.” I did not envision or draw people. They simply materialized out of the abstract. And, as I work on other paintings, I have come to realize that this phenomenon almost always occurs. One way or another figures, faces and forms come through to guide my work. Sometimes, you have to look a bit more closely for them than other times. But, they are there. And, I am grateful to them because, I believe, they give my work universal meaning. Understandably, viewers tend to look for something familiar that relates to their own lives. In my works, that “something” somehow seems to be there. I am just the person who makes it possible for it surface and become recognizable.
Bottom Line: I have no idea how long “First” took to complete. I am finished with a painting only when I study it and realize it speaks to me. That is one of the most exciting parts of the process. It is also the only way I know it is finished. I stop when I get to the point where I am afraid to touch it because it already has something to say and I do not want to do a thing to change that. I feel that if it is speaking to me, it will speak to others. When I was done with “First,” I also thought it embodied that which I was looking to create: synchronicity between beauty and universal meaning. It was a very short time later that I was told “First” rose to the level of a true work of art. I remain deeply-flattered and amazed.
The MoCA > Let’s move on to the next one of our favorites: “Brush.” The work reminds us of the nineteenth century painters, and the impressionistic effects suggest a certain eeriness to the mood. Can you describe the work a bit for our viewers?
I cannot describe “Brush” other than to tell you what I felt as I was creating it. Since the pandemic began, I have missed the ocean. When I noticed a seascape emerging, I consciously let it happen. Pre-Covid, I would take walks on the beach in the late afternoon when, often, a storm was rolling in. That may be the eeriness you feel. In addition, although “Brush” is a seascape, the painting is devoid of people and the ocean is not actually visible—regardless of my intention to bring light back in to a world that went dark.
Though I may never tell you the story a painting is meant to suggest, it is only because that story is yours to tell. In the case of “Brush,” this provides me with a distinct advantage because your knowledge of art makes the interpretation of that story much more interesting.
There is a theme to how I paint: I am not the least bit afraid to try something new. I tend to trust my instincts.
Acrylic on Canvas
The MoCA > Two others that have caught our eyes are “Blue Dog” and “Purple Plunge” – so what’s the story behind those?
Thank you. “Blue Dog” and “Purple Plunge“ are two of my favorite paintings.
As for the story...
In each of my works, the story was written before I began painting. I am just allowing it to be told. My contribution is to create a painting that entices the viewer to wonder and think about what that story might be. So, rather than assign my own meaning to a painting, I leave it to your imagination.
It could be that, in a way, I paint in reverse. I suppose I just want to release my thoughts and feelings in a way I don’t have to explain. Usually, I don’t even realize what those thoughts and feelings are until I open my eyes to the canvas and see that something within it is fighting to emerge. From that point on, I just try to get the unnecessary elements out of the way so the story can fully develop. The story is there. It is merely hidden within distractions inherent in the abstract. I am just the mechanism through which that meaning can be uncovered but, once unearthed, the story belongs to you.
Although my goal is for others to be inspired to assign their own meaning to my work, accomplishing that goal is preceded by a creative process. As I tend to look at things around me in relation to color, the first thing I do is choose colors that will complement one another, or not complement one another at all, depending upon how I feel. Color and texture become the focus of my composition. After the colors have been chosen, I literally just explore where the paint takes me.
To do this, I try different techniques. For example, with “Blue Dog,” once the figure appeared, I used my fingers to uncover the rest of him, which consists of a beautiful mixture of colors within the layers of the painting. If you look closely you will see where I pulled my fingers through the canvas.“Blue Dog” is a statement piece. There are some who think “Blue Dog” is a little eerie—until they see it in person, at which point all they can say—as I am picking up their jaw from the ground—is that “Blue Dog” is absolutely magnificent. Of course, I was too attached at the time to sell the piece, but the point is that with “Blue Dog,” as is the case with many of my paintings, a photograph simply does not do it justice. “Blue Dog” also looks even more beautiful hanging next to “Lake.” Though very different, the two have perfect chemistry together.
I love the color combinations of both “Blue Dog” and “Purple Plunge.” With “Purple Plunge,”I used a fairly unique process (at least, for me), that included creating a beautifully rich under painting, mixing colors on top of it, dripping high flow acrylics as I repeatedly turned the canvas, and making a complete mess. Besides cleaning up the mess, the process once again became about the figures that were emerging from the paint flow—figures that appear to be plunging into a purple abyss.
The MoCA > It’s quite clear that you have a unique style of painting, but if there’s an underlying theme in your works, it’s not readily apparent. Is that a correct assumption?
If you are looking for an underlying politicalor social theme in my work, there is none. I am not a political person. But, although there is no underlying theme that applies to all of my paintings, there is underlying meaning that applies to each. For as beautiful as a painting can be, if no universal meaning emerges from within it, that painting does not rise to the level of art.
There is a theme to how I paint: I am not the least bit afraid to try something new. I tend to trust my instincts. I like to be in the moment and express myself freely depending upon how I feel. And, I suppose that changes depending upon what is going on in the world— my world and the world at large. Each day is different. And, my feelings at the moment inform the process I use in what I happen to be painting. So, I try things.
For example, "Reflection," is a beautiful study in silver. It is also a wonderful friend of the dark. Oddly, the dark actually enhances the painting: “Reflection” not only glows in the dark, but in the dark you can see your reflection in it. I have to say it was a little disconcerting when I first discovered this. But, after seeing myself in the painting, it took me no time to recover and realize that it is an incredible phenomenon.
Many of my paintings somehow change completely depending upon their angle. They seem to have meaning from every direction. So much so, that I often study a painting for days in order to determine where it should be signed. When I realize it is filled with meaning from every angle, I sign the painting in a corner on an angle to enable its true owner to choose the direction in which they want it displayed. There are at least ten paintings on which I have done this. And, when the true owners thinks they may have discovered all that the painting has to say, they can turn it and start all over again. One thing I can say about my artwork is that it is not boring; rather, it is challenging and dynamic.
Another example is “Avery.” It has a very light Monet-style background, with an abstract formation over it. “Avery” is absolutely magical. If you look at it straight on from a distance, you can see the profile of a young girl. But, as you get closer, the profile disappears and the face of a woman emerges. In this case, I only noticed it after I named the painting “Avery”—the name of a wonderful little girl who blessed my life the very night I created the painting. As I said, “Avery” is magical.
“Iridescence” is a 60-inch by 48-inch mixed media that just happened when I was preparing the under-layer of the painting. I was painting outside ten feet away from my family and, as I began to move the canvas, my family shrieked and told me not to touch it. I didn’t see what the fuss was about because the painting is so large I was just trying not to drop it. But what everyone else saw, particularly outside in the sunlight, sent them into a state of awe.
“Iridescence” is literally iridescent. As I was lugging it from my easel to the door, they were watching it change colors. Completely. Over and over. It is nearly impossible to capture this in a photograph or even on video: it is something you have to experience in person. But, “Iridescence” is an amazing piece, and I made sure it was finished with several coats of UV-light protection, because it should really be on a wall touched by daylight. If I had a home on the beach, I would put it there. It has very light, relaxing sandy colors. I love the result.
Then, there is “In the Dark,” which is not merely entitled “In the Dark,” it was actually painted in the dark. It is where I paint that leads to my painting “In the Dark” explanation:
In April, I created a “Man Cave” for my husband. A space all his own—with the only television in the house that has the football channel. It also has a ping pong table. I had good intentions. In May, I began painting. I started in the kitchen but got paint all over the walls. By June, I was using the open area next to the “Man Cave” because the ping pong table holds most of my recently acquired art supplies. By the time football season began, I had completely taken over everything except the Man Cave sofa and television. In deference to my husband, I did not want to turn on the lights during the game he was watching near my inside easel. So, I painted in the dark. I had never done that before but felt it was the least I could do for a man who has taken every photograph you have ever seen of my paintings.
When I turned the lights on, “In the Dark” was like getting a gift. It has an Impressionistic feel with an Abstract twist. Between that and “Reflection,” I am very glad I’m not afraid of the dark. Or, of people screaming at the ref as I paint.
Painting in the dark was a fluke and, though I have found no one who agrees with me, I feel my entire whirlwind art adventure is a bit of a fluke. Or, at least, serendipitous. I am amazed by the overwhelmingly positive responses to my paintings. I don’t feel right calling it my “work” because, as an activity borne of COVID-19 isolation, painting immediately became a passion. I paint all the time. Particularly, in the wee hours of the night when I don’t have to get paint all over the phone.
You asked about the underlying theme of my work? I would have to say it is liberation: My personal and spiritual liberation and, having the freedom to create a piece that speaks to me. Because I feel that if a painting speaks to me, it will speak to others.
Acrylic on Canvas