I have always been keenly aware of my environment. My love of still life grew from my interest in the human imprint displayed in “domestic landscapes”. There is a curious significance to the objects with which we surround ourselves. Universally mundane trinkets often elicit intimately personal memories beyond simple nostalgia – triggering specific memories or connections to time and place. A personal iconography continues to evolve from the everyday relics of my experiences.
Surreal exaggeration of light and color has increased in my recent work. The shadow began to have greater import in each composition and has led to metaphor in many instances. Depicting their duplicitous nature provides an additional layer of subtext, as they can simultaneously reveal, mimic, loom over, shelter, confuse or deceive.
“In order to get to something universal you must be very specific.” – Max Beckman
Texas Skies and Water Towers
Since childhood I have been an avid observer of the dramatic and everchanging Texas skies. The clouds reflect the moody nature of Texas weather which can go from buttermilk summer skies to foreboding storms in minutes and then end in brilliant palettes at days end. Watching the beauty unfold never fails to produce awe and closeness to my creator.
I enjoy the abstract nature of sky studies; affording essential focus on color, form and movement.
The water towers of small Texas towns have always held my interest. Their presence on the horizon is an image of identity for these smaller communities; essential iconography of the small Texas town. The play of light on the industrial forms, and their stark contrast against the ever changing Texas sky causes me to revisit them as a subject.
The Target series was a definite departure from my usual work. These paintings address the personal and public impact of gun violence that has become an undesirable societal constant for our nation. Our collective conscience is numbed to the impact of each personal loss as this epidemic continues. The random violent acts aimed at our schools, theaters, nightclubs, concerts, churches and countless individuals wears on our corporate psyche.
As I researched each incident, the personal stories washed over me; my responses were deeply felt. The paintings reflected a wide range of emotions: anger, empathy, mourning and frustration. Resulting in some of my most personally honest and responsive work; though stylistically disjunctive. My hope was to ignite empathy for the families and victims beyond the ’24-hour news cycle’. Desiring these paintings stir emotion, spur dialogue and would provoke impactful change regarding this complicated dilemma. I continue to believe if this issue is ignored, we are all possible ‘Targets.’
Vanitas and Survivors
I have always echoed the Dutch ‘vanitas’ with their rich tradition of symbolism via ordinary objects. Universal struggles of hope, vanity, faith, loss, & memory are implied through my own personal iconography. At this time I wanted to mimic the illusion and mood of the Dutch masters in my still lifes and portraits.
Survivors was a response to our cultural obsession with ‘reality TV’ portraying human existence in fabricated situations. The ‘Survivor’ portraits address the true reality of life experience.
These portraits are singular ‘snapshots,’ reflecting a season of struggle. These paintings are not meant to define the subject or judge their situation, rather to record a ‘defining moment’ of human struggle. A true survivor bends with trials; gaining strength & wisdom.
These works were generated from personal experience and observation. Since I was a child I have had a certain affinity for interior spaces. I was fascinated by the paths of hot Texas sunlight that bleached the rooms in our house. The ominous dark corners and hallways of evening intrigued me. I found my own private worlds at play in the closet, under tents made from dining room chairs and old sheets, or laying beneath the kitchen table during long, adult conversations.
I observed a great many contradictions about the role of women in these domestic spaces. Messages were conflicting. The matriarchs of my family were strong minded and accomplished (often in areas which were not considered to be women’s territory at the time), yet their days were filled with “woman’s work.” Their strengths were well concealed within the outward trappings of a “good” wife and mother.
Growing older I gained an interest in the complexities of human relationships. As I studied them and looked inward, I became intrigued by the patterns of communication we develop from our subconscious observations as children. I recall that while playing under the table as a child, I had an awareness of covert expressions of anger, double entendres and innuendoes that were communicated in the space between steaming cups of coffee above me. I may not have listened to or comprehended a word, but my unconscious senses were awakened to the emotions that spilled over the edges of the table to my world.
Feelings of fear, love, mistrust and guilt as well as role expectations can be communicated and received quite subtly. I attempt to express in my work these subtleties of communication within the context of my past interiors. My “domestic landscapes” are autobiographical narratives which depict aspects of memory, psychologically charged interiors and the portraiture of specific objects from these memories and places. I call on the askew realism of dreams and the imaginative realm of the child’s mind to manipulate the representation of specific images from my memory. I produce unfamiliar environments from the familiar with dramatic “film noir” lighting, odd color usage and the baroque distortion of western perspective. Most of the situations are drawn from a low vantage point – a “child’s eye view.”
Pulling images from memory has interesting and unexpected effects on the directions these works. In attempting to depict aspects of memory, I create elements of distortion, simultaneous viewpoints and symbolic imagery of my childhood; tricycles, coffee cups, paper airplanes, lit and unlit candles, dominoes and other adult game pieces. These symbols in my paintings are usually the most specific visual queues that trigger memories, whereas the interiors are composites of individual details of various spaces; lighting effects, wall papers, door knobs, shag carpet, tile, etc
I refer to the still lifes from this series as ‘Domestic Effects’. The personal ‘effects’ of those we love and interact with have significance for me. These objects can trigger memories charged with a vast array of emotions. In some instances even stand as a metaphor for a specific relationship.
“It is easier for me to paint than to write about it.
And I would so much rather people would look at them than read about it.”
I felt I could best express my heart and experiences of motherhood through art. These journals display what I observed of these new beings . Studying their image, every curve of their faces or ‘perfectly- imperfect’ wrinkle of an ear. The toys and activities they loved gave me insight into who they were becoming. Some entries speak of hardship, which we all grew through: illness, grief and the expressions of child-like faith these brought to us all.
As with any mothers journal these reflections were purposefully created so my children would know they are my treasure.