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You develop what you lack.
When I began to paint "abstractly" I lacked decisiveness. The paintings in "sweet savory sour" mark my discovery of a visual language that feels natural to me and that I understand enough to be able to engage in a dialogue with but that also stumps and surprises me. Painting is at times the most frustrating thing but I love being surprised by a painting, by where it ends up and what I do with it. A tiny bit of magic happens on the canvas that can't be explained and that's what keeps me painting.
I hope to paint beautiful paintings. But beautiful in an unexpected, weird way. Simply put, I'm interested in light, color, relationships, tensions, and contradictions. I think of the paintings as having their own energies and personalities. A painting begins with an idea of color, the shapes and forms come after and a dialogue is initiated. The paintings want to be a certain way. They have to go out in the world and present themselves. I'm interested in the tension between a presentation (how the paintings want to be seen) and sincerity (what I really want to say) - seduction, allure, enticement versus truthful, unselfconscious authenticity. I found that combining elements that are showy, or some kind of facade, with ones that rougher, less sure, maybe messy, felt real to me.
I draw with oil pastel and paint on photographs I get printed on glossy 8.5x11" paper at Staples to loosen up before starting a new painting. Painting over images I've taken or found online allows me to see shapes, compositions, textures, and colors that I couldn't have created from my hand & mind alone. It takes the pressure off creating a new image or composition. I get butterflies before beginning a new painting, a feeling similar to those I've experienced before a dance performance. I wonder what's going to happen and if it's going to go well or not. I anticipate the moment of letting go.
Painting on a large scale is crucial to the process. The canvas feels like a stage for me; I'm more aware of the presence of the canvas than it's edges - it gives off a feeling of expanse and freedom instead of confinement. Adding acrylic spray paint, house paint, enamel, and oil pastel to the paintings have opened up their possibilities. Oil pastel allows me to draw on the painting and my motion never has to be broken by the brush running out of paint. Spray paint, house paint, and enamel force me to work with a pre-made color. Spray paint is wonderful and creates a hazy mist that it so distinct to itself.
Painting is problem solving. I create the problem and must also find its solution. I look at a painting and attempt to see what it needs that would solve it, then something unexpected happens in the act of painting that changes everything. I attempt to balance the act of listening with the act of asserting, to find the balance between working with a plan or challenge for myself (use a palette knife, make stripes, paint over the whole painting) and letting things happen intuitively. Sometimes the solution is reached quickly, other times it must be dug out.
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Kline, Anna Lauren Zahler, "sweet savory sour" (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 259.
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