I make watercolor paintings of objects that hold layered, quiet histories. I paint books, architectural fragments (windows, beams, boards), bowls, flowers, boxes, and other daily things, observing their shadows, their creases, their forgotten bits. Within the scarred surfaces and pits and folds, I am looking for the humanness in the object. The worn edges and unsquared boxes, the scuffs and marks tell a story about aging and time. I paint surfaces that emerge when I least expect them to. These paintings are about memories that resurface, about the things that remain and the things that we lose.
My earliest studies, in the late 1970s, were in drawing and printmaking, mediums which still inform my paintings. Influenced especially by printmaking, I score my paper with pieces of cardboard, fabric, and discarded construction materials, pressing them into the paint, and leaving an impression. Working from sketches and photographs, I allow the washes of the watercolor to gradually accrue, building up a complex surface; and yet, leaving the white space of the paper is as important to me as developing the painted image.
For the Hold series (2017), I worked at a small-scale for the first time in years. I began making monotypes with a rubber plate that I never washed. I used liquid graphite to cover found materials, pressing an image structured by those materials onto the plate. As I transferred the image from plate to paper, I was surprised by the details that emerged. Afterward, I would go in with pencil and coffee washes over the print. This series was a way to move through the residual affective experience of rebuilding a house, the ways in which emotions weighted those years of transition. At the same time, my process included working with leftover materials from decades ago; the series became about how something that happened so long ago--something long forgotten--would appear, triggering emotions and memories of other voices, scents, sounds, experiences. Using fragments to make the work, treasured pieces of salvaged materials from other moments of my life, I found myself rebuilding more than just a house. Somehow, rebuilding the house and making these works also became about revisiting other pasts.
In the Ledger series (2018), books became my subject. As I started paging through books I have read, tagged, or marked, I was surprised to be hit with the remembrance of when and why each book was important. I was transported to specific moments, remembering in detail my first encounters with each book. These books became an accounting of years I worked as an artist and years I worked in other fields or as a caretaker. These offered a sequence of things I worked with or through, things that had an influence on my work, and other artists I was looking to. As I began painting piles of artist monographs, I decided to turn the names of male artists to the wall, only allowing the women’s names to appear in my painted stacks. I was interested in the push and pull between how many books are about men versus how many are about women, and noticing that constant imbalance over history.
Starting these works, I photographed the stacks of books, looking for a specific light. I then began each painting by scraping a large, pristine sheet of paper, often with pieces of stucco I’ve kept from my first house, with rocks, and with other construction debris. This is both a symbolic and a physical mark-making. I then lay thin washes of paint over those scars. As I paint, sometimes those scar marks disappear and other times they show through the painted surface. Leaving the painting hanging in my studio for several weeks and revisiting it, I may pull out more detail or take a wet sponge and remove some of the paint, leaving only a ghost of what was and washing away any preciousness.
My work changes with my life. I find myself using black and white during moments of struggle and returning to color when it lightens. I find that sometimes things show up better in the shadows. I continue to look for the quiet, contemplative emotional states in found things. I am interested in ephemerality of materials and the fleetingness of our time, the universality of loss, and how we center moments of joy in the objects that surround us. My work is a sketchbook of transitions, an exploration of personal history, and the textures of memory.