"To paint after nature is not a matter of copying the objective world, it's giving shape to your sensations." - Paul Cezanne

After using traditional oil mediums to explore sensations and movement in nature through color for many years, I made a shift in my studio practice while designing large scale theater sets for a production of Macbeth. I was tapping into the themes of the symbolic binary of light and dark and nature and the unnatural from Dante (Shakespeare’s Italian contemporary) and the emotions of the play. I began experimenting with layering water-based fabric dyes, paints and acrylics on the giant backdrops and set pieces to have the scenes glow and vibrate atmospherically with color in order to express a feeling psychologically similar to the “wandering in a dark wood” intro from Dante’s first canto of the Divine Comedy. This selva oscura (or wilderness) is the disorienting dark forest in which Dante finds himself at the beginning of the poem. I was fascinated by the image of chaotic matter as a primordial wood.

 

Soon after, I started translating the use of these materials and translucent layers to create large muslin canvases in my studio, emulating and building on the dynamic colors and experiences from the production. Through these new modes of expression of sensations of nature and paint, I began to delve into more personal and universal themes of love, loss, grief and even humor in my work, further pondering darkness, unpredictability, joy and light - always symbolized by water for me.

More recently, I’ve been exploring other new materials. Playing with the unique effects of color, pattern and movement I'd been getting while experimenting with the decorative beauty of batik-like wax resists and layering of brightly-hued colors that my family were using during holidays together decorating eggs (traditionally used in Ukrainian Easter egg dyeing), I started trying to simulate these effects in my work. In attempting to capture the same intense qualities and color saturations, I began mixing art materials and incorporating them in unconventional ways for me. Using frisket-style masking tools, I started painting on much smaller-scale, hard, flat surfaces to work more quickly, (as the activity of layering colors and removing resists, layering and removing, over and over became more time consuming). I’m calling these more recent pieces “Friskets”, but regardless of size, medium, mode of expression, process or style, I endeavor to keep playing with color and materials to evoke sensations (both macro and micro) that may hold specific themes or meanings for me, but are also open to the viewers interpretation.

 

“I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.” – Joan Miro