This week’s blog is coming early to coincide with an art opening that may be of interest to you New York City folks…
I met Liz Ainslie at the Millay Colony for the Arts, nearly six years ago now. I was writing and she was working on her paintings. Liz was not a painter of portraits, of landscapes, but of shapes, which fascinated me because I could still feel emotion in the work without human likeness or association with human experiences (like a pleasant outdoor scene that a person would likely enjoy, etc.).
“At Bay,” 2016, oil on linen, 48″x36”
It’s easy to spend a lot of time in front of her work, letting your eyes trace the differences between lines and colors, some of which blend and coincide, others which conflict or combat one another. I like her work because I feel there are different stories in there that can be written by each unique viewer, purely based on the way each viewer’s own brain unpacks and makes sense of the colors and lines painted there, in various relation to each other.
I am no art critic, but I am a word-nerd, and “Armature,” as her new show at Transmitter is named, is defined by the free dictionary as either:
In all cases, the term has to do with varying degrees of structure, and in my read, it’s not only the way the paintings are structured that interests here, but how the viewer structures perception or emotional reaction around the shapes on the canvas.
“Flipsy,” 2016, oil on canvas, 48″x36″ “Pooling,” 2016, oil on linen, 12″x9″
Was I right about any of this regarding her original intent? I didn’t know! So I decided to ask her a few questions last night, just prior to her opening:
1. Hi Liz! Why do you paint?
I paint in order to see an impression of my own perception, distorted through translation. Each time I mix a color on the palette and place the brush on the canvas, I’m reworking my definitions of abstraction, painting, and observation.
2. Why do you paint what you paint?
Abstraction is the most generative type of painting for me. By creating rules that guide each series of paintings, I set up a continuously shifting puzzle. Right now I’m working with several basic drawings that repeat throughout the series. The drawings function like armatures upon which I can intuitively to build complex compositions through color and material.
3. What kind of a role does painting occupy in your life overall?
Painting and drawing have defined my life as long as I can remember. I need to be making something in order to feel balanced. It’s just who I am.
4. What inspires your work?
Traveling abroad. On trips, I always notice the specificity of light, color, and perspective in new landscapes.
Making observational drawings. I like the act of translating what I’m seeing physically to the paper quickly before it changes. This lack of hesitation opens new pathways.
I like to dance in my studio. My paintings are getting larger so I’m finding full body movement to be more influential.
5. How do you hope your work impacts your audience, whomever they may be?
I hope as people encounter the paintings they are drawn to spend time looking at them. Since my process welcomes unexpected outcomes, I hope viewers will get a sense of my experience making them. I want them to be analogous to poetry. Good poetry can be analyzed based on knowledge of the medium, but can serve just as much purpose being read plainly for what the sensory experience provides.
6. If you could say or give one thing to a young/emerging painter, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to make some bad paintings. You have to get through it in order to develop a lasting methodology.
So, food for thought this week, NOMADs, whether you paint or care to interpret this medium: a meditation on structure and how structure (yours or those imposed by others forces) impact and inform your work, your process, is the enterprise of the week, should you choose to accept it.
Thanks for the inspiration, Liz!
Interested parties can find more about Liz andher work here: http://www.lizainslie.com/
And her show details:
ARMATURE: New Paintings by Liz Ainslie
June 23 – July 30, 2017 at Transmitter:
Opening Reception: Friday June 23, 6–9pm