Born in Concord, Massachusetts and raised in Texas, Camille Warmington earned a Bachelor of Interior Architecture from Kansas State University in 1984. She worked for architecture firms in New York City and Dallas, and in 1989 she studied painting at the MFAH’s Glassell School. Warmington had her first solo exhibition at the Lawndale Art Center in 2015 and was a 2016 Hunting Prize finalist. Her work was also featured in New American Paintings issue 120.
What inspired these series of abstracted landscapes?
Landscape and the natural environment have always influenced my work, especially my early oil paintings. However, this new series evolved from the weirdly abstracted textures and patterns occurring in the backgrounds of the identity paintings; vegetation like Christmas trees a row of shrubs, or floral patterns in a dress. Shifting the primary subject to materials found in nature felt like a logical next step.
Dealing with a lifelong fear of air travel was also a catalyst. These are artifacts from journeys; part of a world I am creating for myself whereas the identity series focused on a world created for me.
What role does photography play in your work?
Photography is my visual journal for recording the interesting textures, patterns, or colors I come in contact with in the environment. It’s also a first step in the editorial process of a painting.
The small patterns in your paintings remind me a little bit of pointillism. What kind of application process do you use and how did you come about it?
From a photograph, the image is processed digitally, printed, and transferred on to the panel by drawing with blue Saral transfer paper. Then I paint with a very small brush and lots of medium which pushes the pigment out to the edges of the stroke and gives the mark more texture. Some of the blue transferred line work is intentionally left visible, allowing the viewer to see snippets of the process and the artists hand at work.
I want to engage the viewer up-close with the small marks and at a distance when the marks blend together to make the subject more obvious so, yes, pointillism is definitely referenced in the work. On a more personal level though, I started to think of the mark-making as needlework – both in its application and appearance as well as the historical and emotional connection it invokes for me as the daughter of a woman who worked with her hands. My mother’s needlework is an artifact; something that her hand created and evidence of her presence. I think of these paintings as my artifacts. They are also a nod to women who have for centuries, created beautiful things with their hands.
Do you play with the scale of these markings and how they define / obscure the representation in your paintings?
The scale of the marks (and the brushes) have become smaller over time, especially as I began to think of the painted mark as a “sister” to needlework.
In your series "Identity" you translated family photographs into pixelated paintings. Do you think you'll go back to painting these familial scenes?
I definitely think about revisiting the familial imagery again – maybe with a different medium or combination of mediums. The old photographs, especially those with a touch of irony, are loaded with emotional memory and an endless opportunity for some more art therapy. Perhaps there is even a place in the work for the images that are less emotionally evocative for me. It just may take a little deeper dive to connect and create the work.