I am a painter and my work is contemporary, experimental, mixed-media painting. I create artwork in a search for peace, clarity and order from my own experience of the world as a place of disorder, chaos and uncertainty. My work investigates the journey to recognise and celebrate the survival of trauma, loss, imperfection, alienation, marginalisation and vanished history.
I am drawn to subjects that have been broken or weathered because the remains contain all the energy left behind by the hands that formerly made use of the object. Repaired as far as possible, these objects symbolise the memories of those who knew it when whole and the potential that it yet contains. The process of weathering and decay on buildings reveals traces of history, the evidences of care or neglect. I love these things that bear the marks of accident, abuse, weathering and time. They remind me of myself and symbolise all the promise we humans handle so casually, promise that many fail to recognise much less nurture.
I want to make work that is relevant to a wider public by using contemporary experimental approaches within the traditional format of painting. Over the years, my contemporary approach and experimentation with new technologies, different materials and wide-ranging techniques has led me to create some very interesting and innovative work. One approach I've been working on is the use of digital photo processing and printing technologies in combination with traditional painting materials, especially pastel.
I love painting with pastel. I discovered this medium in 1978. The first thing I noticed was its unchanging nature, dry pigment from the start, colours and mixtures always ready to go, minimal set up and clean up. Over time I've also learned to appreciate the immediacy of pastel, from my hand to the support, colour just flies and sings. A born experimentalist, I've also been on a continuing journey of discovery using pastel in mixed-media and layering applications.
One avenue of experimentation for me has been exploring various combinations of photography and painting since 2001, including using photo images as models for drawing and collage-like compositions plus collaging photo transfers into mixed-media painted surfaces.
I achieved a creative breakthrough in 2011 when I began incorporating techniques derived from the school of photo-realism, the use of mechanical means to transfer the photographic information to the painting support. Photo-assisted processes have been used since at least the time of Vermeer, whose master paintings are believed to have been based on a projection from a camera obscura. Recently David Hockney has speculated that Ingres, Caravaggio, Velazques, da Vinci and other masters also used optics and lenses to create accurate likenesses and correct perspective in preparation for painting.
I use digital image processing tools to alter photos with changes to scale, proportion, cropping, the introduction of visual noise, altered perspective and warping. I want to distort the image to represent the world as I experience it. I then create a grisaille underlayer with digital printing onto a support which may also have layers of underpainting. Once printed, I add layers of pastel and/or acrylic to provide the painterly qualities that were part of my original goals for experimentation in this vein. This technique enables me to create artwork that is clearly of photographic origin but is also clearly a painting, a distinctly different artwork that merges qualities of both sources.
I combine representation, figuration and symbolism with varying degrees of abstraction to create compositions that evoke an ambiguous narrative of past trauma and the beauty to be found in the evidence of survival. Layering is a key element in my work in order to re-create the sense of time passed, with traces visibly remaining of what was there before.
I have been most influenced in my creative journey by literary sources including Jorge Luis Borges, Yasuneri Kawabata, Anton Chekhov, William Faulkner, Paul Auster, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Umberto Eco; and by artist masters including Vermeer, El Greco, Cézanne, Picasso, Whistler, Morandi, Rauschenberg, Degas, Warhol, Asian prints and ink paintings, and elements of the photo realism movement.
I was raised in a working class environment marked by more than the usual artists’ familial dysfunction, trauma and loss. My education and inclinations have made me an outsider within my family; my origins and lack of academic credentials keep me on the fringes of Alaska's contemporary arts world. Even my chosen medium of painting is marginalised by current curatorial practices. My position in the world as a whole is that of a misfit somewhat accepted within any number of groups, but always on the outer margins looking in. A great vantage point for my artistic project.
Born and raised in Alaska, I now live in Anchorage with my husband, Jim Granata, and our two lhasa-apsos, Puhn-Kin and Griz-Lee. Essentially self-trained over a lifetime, making, exhibiting and selling art has been my primary occupation sinde the end of 1996.