What are the major themes in your work?
Process. My art practice has been process-driven for the last 2 decades. I create painterly happenings on the canvas surface through the facilitation and liberation of the media. This painterly behaviour is the focus of my artwork. I have drawn influence from the Abstract Expressionist Movement, Gestural and Action Painting, and the concepts of Meta-Art.
Abstract Art holds the right to trust one’s own experience, an asset in any culture. I am interested in exploring and evoking a subjective experience in the viewer. The art acts as a place for reflection and connection for the viewer. I progressed this interest through my study of Art Therapy.
How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?
I come from a creative family and have been making art since childhood. Both my mother and sister are self-taught painters. I followed my passion through my education studying Art and Art History through school and University. A Major in Art History supported my understanding that art reveals and determines the cultural place and attitude. I particularly enjoyed studying Modern and Contemporary Art Theory. I was trading Traditional African Art with dealers from Congo to South Africa as a business in my twenties. Traditional African Art served a purpose: religious or social.
I am drawn to the age-old medium of painting. There is history in paint and the medium is fundamental to Art. I find working with paint to be primal, visceral, intimate, honest and filled with potential for expression and observation.
How has your style and practice changed over the years?
My dedication to process-driven abstraction started when I was around 30. Before that my work was figurative but I became increasingly less interested in expressing my own narratives and more focused on composition, medium, texture, and experimental processing. My art-making involves the innate processes of the media. I facilitate and collaborate with the medium.
Over the years I have developed an intimate understanding of my medium, and how to utilise its properties and potential. Experimentation is part of the process of discovery of what the medium can do in varying circumstances. I take this as my inspiration.
There is a continual and intense balancing between intention and intuition; a tension in control and abandon.
My interest is like the medium - paint itself – as expressed by my process-driven style - has directed me toward a Meta Artistic Practice. Meta in terms of art meaning self-referential: painting with paint, about paint.
A walk through your art process: Do you just jump in?
I choose the scale of the work first, then the palate. I anticipate composition but allow change continuously, and let the paint guide me. My process is intuitive and instinctive mostly.
I naturally am visually intrigued and notice colour, shadow, texture, and depth in my environment. It is normal for me to process this type of information. I engage with my art practice in the same way, with a fascination for shifting aesthetics. Each mark or gesture I make is intentional, but not precious. My interest is in the process of creating and destroying the image through pools and layers of paint.
My sense of composition, balance and palate influence each work. I spend time considering where, how, what and when to act in applying mediums. There is a play between anticipating outcomes based on years of experimentation and the organic surprises my dynamic process often reveals. Control vs abandon. Expectation vs surprise.
Tell us about your education in both Art History and Art Therapy; and does it influence your practice?
My training in Art Therapy explained what I knew about the transformational effect of the creative process. When we make art, we shift from the left brain, which includes logical and learned thinking, into the right brain, moving our mental energy away from the frontal lobe and more into areas of intuition, creative problem solving, inspiration, ideas and the subconscious. This accesses a new plane of understanding. The same applies when viewing or contemplating art. Abstraction is particularly open-ended.
Does inspiration or discipline keep you productive? And how do you know when an artwork is finished?
My desire to paint and my style of painting is spontaneous and organic, so mostly I paint when I feel inspired and have the time available. I have intentions but I do not know exactly what the work will look like finished. However, the nature of commissioned work is a relative and collaborative process, to which I apply a more structured approach.
Some of the processes in my work require patience, however, at other times, quite the opposite is the case, as I am pressured to work while the media are wet, reactive and pliable. This is a critical part of my process and when I must be present and uninterrupted. At times I am working with litres of wet paint, mixing, and combining chemical solutions which react to one another at varying intensities and speeds. Some techniques require time for the paint to rest between applications. Thick, pooled areas can take months to cure. Time, self-reliance and knowledge of the medium are of the essence.
The time spent on a canvas depends on the style, medium and scale. Production time involves multiple factors such as process, artistic resolution and drying times. It is a stop-start process with intervals for layering these inter-related aspects, at various stages of completion. Some works may be ready to leave the studio in weeks and others much take longer - if they ever leave. To me painting is a dialogue, I know that the painting is finished when the discussion ends, and I feel satisfied.