“I am a storyteller.”
Who, what, when and why of a painting is just as important as color, shape, pattern and texture. Animals are the main characters. I look to them and ask, “What kind of tale will we spin today?”
“I use paint instead of words.”
Wax is my “secret ingredient”. Applied between layers of acrylic paint, the wax is then scraped. The alchemy of this unorthodox mix of paint and wax builds subtle, rocklike textures. It is in the initial scratchy, unpredictable marks, where an idea is born! It may start with a suggestion of an ear or patterns resembling the scales of a fish or the simple texture of fur.
“The story has begun!”
Using exaggeration and manipulation of shape brings characters to life. It gives them goodness, gumption or grit – the heart and soul of an animal. Exaggeration often begins with paper and scissors to create templates.
“How can I make this animal different?”
That is the question ever on my mind. I will bend, tilt, elongate or widen shapes to accomplish this! The paper animal parts are plopped right on top of the painted substrate. In puppet like fashion, the stylized shapes are playfully joined together so gesture creates personality and exaggeration promotes action and imagination.
“I collect colors.”
Color choices are deeply rooted in a lifelong love of textiles. I make lists of colors found in fabrics, old or new, to remember and record the combinations. The list becomes my “color story”. Under layers of bright, sparkly, saturated hues peek through layers and layers of paint breathing life and energy into a work. Softer colors in final layers calms the chaos! A color wheel is always available but good old fashioned gut instinct works best for me.
“I was born to embellish.”
Elaborate use of geometric patterns, symbols or plant forms in backgrounds can represent dialog in my painted stories. Floating, bouncing shapes echo what is going on in the mind of the main character. Circles often represent sound – the yip, yip of a coyote or the hoot of an owl. Patterns are generously applied with hand cut stamps and stencils or added by etching into wet paint. This is my favorite stage of the process. As the elements of the painting begin to connect, the narrative of the painting is revealed.
“Titles trigger the imagination and jumpstart storytelling.”
It is an important part of the process – like naming a child! Titles come to mind in the final phases of painting. As who, what, when and where become apparent, a scenario develops in my mind. Short, simple titles hint at my thoughts while painting but intentionally leave plenty of room for viewers to create their own tales to tell. Finding the title to a painting is the ‘happily ever after’ in my storytelling and frees me to release the work for the enjoyment of others.