As I write this I almost need someone to come and rescue me from my studio where I am working on about 20 paintings at once. They are all leaned up against each other so it is like a house of cards in there. And last night I dreamed I had to ride home through miles and miles of mountains on a tiny borrowed tricycle. I felt OK about it, thought I could make it, and then a wheel fell off complicating my plan. I’m very excited about this show but sometimes it gets a little crazy getting ready for it.
1. Tell us about your reflected landscapes! What inspired you to study gardens and reflections in your new paintings?
I’ve been wanting to try my hand at landscapes again for quite some time and so I acted on a nudge in that direction from the gallery this summer. How to start I wondered briefly and I headed off to my nearest “landscape", Van Dusen Gardens with my iPhone and no idea. Young guys were busy working in hip waders pulling waterlilies out of the ponds to keep them from taking over and excited visitors were making off with the flowers. I too was immediately drawn to the water and then to reflections of the sky and nearby plants which through my camera looked so much brighter and clearer than with the naked eye. I was fascinated. This is my job, I was thinking, wandering around in a garden on a sunny afternoon waiting to see what intrigues me? Crazy and wonderful. Pure basic research. Although I returned many times to the garden in July and August and took many photos all of the large paintings in the show are riffs on just two of them.
2. Can you describe how your floral paintings have evolved since your last show?
I’m enjoying painting more abstractly with wide brushes….trying to paint more loosely. My flower paintings have a tendency to be crowded, almost baroque, and in some of my new flower pieces I’m trying to capture the feeling of open space, layers of depth and emptiness in these works.
3. Your work has continued to grow in a gestural direction. Can you tell us about how you employ spontaneous gesture in these newest pieces?
I really had no idea how to paint water so I’d make a painting then go back the next day find it too tight and paint over the whole thing in a more gestural way. I’d do that for days and began to feel like I was quite possibly going crazy. But at least the marks were getting looser and there was some suggestion of depth in the layers. After that drawing whatever was floating in and on the water was really fun. Using very small delicate brushes almost any mark I made would seem to float on the more diffuse background.
4. Where are some of the places you sought inspiration for this series?
VanDusen Gardens and the Mincio River which I rode along on a bike trip in Italy this fall.
5. This series includes several works on paper. Has painting on paper changed the way you approach a painting or created new possibilities?
Working on paper with oils allowed me to try out many different subject matters and compositions without using up lots of expensive canvases and meant that I could easily carry home what I had painted from Italy. I think doing watercolours has effected the way I paint more than the oils on paper, though, by increasing my interest in layers of transparency.
6. Can you tell us about the scale of your work and why it is satisfying for you to paint bigger and bigger?
I can get fussy with small works to the point that somehow they have as many marks in them as the bigger works and sometimes feel overcrowded to me. I like the wide open space of a big canvas and I love big brushes. I like paintings that seem to be big windows and which you can climb into and get lost in.