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  • Writer's picturesharonkingston

Representing the abstract with the abstract

The ideas I wrestle with–spirituality, the unknown, death, wonder, the possible, the unanswerable–are all abstract concepts not easily defined by a signifier.  Some artists attempt to “talk” about these subjects through narratives or symbolic paintings.  I choose to use the words of Rilke–and his landscape metaphors–to meld the ideas with the abstracted landscape imagery.  Rarely is there a subject/object in my paintings–nor is there line or texture.  It is just atmosphere and the depth created from layers of transparent colors representing the abstract with the abstract.  That is, until today.  Today I placed an object in a painting.

I’ve been mulling over Lesley Dill’s work since seeing it at The Whatcom Museum.  I was struck by how she leaves loose threads in her embroidery works–as she has said in an attempt to lead her viewers with a tangible thread from the world of the mortal to the immortal, just as on Hindu temples the tongue cascading down the temple wall leads one from the world of man to the world of the gods.  And applying this to my work, I’ve thought about how an object in the midst of the atmosphere might give an entry for the viewer to lead them from the concrete to the abstract–and into a deeper interpretation of both the painting and the poem.

Now this is hard for me.  I like soft edges.  I like the undefined.  I don’t like to give answers but to leave mystery.  I like viewers to find their own way through the paintings.  But, I also like change.  And I want to understand how people find meaning.  And the process leads me to believe that the object might cause a pause, enough of a pause to read the words and look at the painting anew.  And that’s what I want, an exchange.  A flow back and forth so that people leave my work changed in some small way.

Here’s what I worked on in the studio today.  I am preparing for a two person exhibit at The Fountainhead Gallery in Seattle in April (National Poetry Month, fabulous) and am experimenting with my infatuation with Turner.  The studio is full of works in progress and it is so much fun.  All big works–over 36 x 36.

Work in Progress, 36 x 36 in, oil on canvas

Making a World in progress, 36 x 36 in, oil on canvas

Untitled in progress, Turner Upturned, 36 x 36 in, oil on canvas

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