"My work investigates man’s elemental interaction with his environment. Through painting, I attempt to make visible man’s explorations, chartings, and constructions, the marks he makes to understand his reality. Man also faces forces that are bigger than him, bigger than his systems. There are unknowns; there are encounters with the Divine." exerpt from artist statement.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I grew up in Nashville and now live in Chattanooga, Tennessee with my husband, Jason. I went to college in West Tennessee; so I've lived in every division of the state, and I have to say, East Tennessee is the best! I love the mountains and ridges and I love Chattanooga.
How did you get into making your own paints? Can you share your process?
A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to know my medium better and to ground my painting practice in history. So, I bought pigments and linseed oil and made some oil paint. Then, I had the opportunity to take a class at John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina in which we gathered colorful soils from river banks and construction sites and turned them into paint. I was captivated by the process. Now, I paint almost exclusively with earth pigments (except for titanium white).
Here's a quick explanation of the process: I gather red and yellow and brown (and sometimes purple!) earths from around my home and other locations Tennessee and North Carolina. Once the soils are dry, I pound each in a mortar and pestle until powdery (a very good stress reliever). I then use geological sieves to sift the pigment until it is super fine. After combining the pigment with just enough linseed oil, I grind it on a glass slab with a glass muller. Then, it becomes paint! The process is a bit tedious, but also meditative. I enjoy the physicality of it, most of the time.
What are some of the inspirations behind this series?
My family recently moved out of the house that my sisters and I grew up in. Since I've been interested in the idea of shelter, I thought I'd work this time with the structures of my childhood home. My work is not usually autobiographical, and I didn't necessarily intend for this group to be completely, but I wanted to investigate the ideas of change and loss coupled with childlike memories of a place. The day I helped my mom move out, I went down to the creek and gathered some dirt- Twin Oaks Umber as I call it- and incorporated it into most of the paintings.
Pink, fleshy tones are in all of the paintings in "Of Dust." Is this a reference to mankind?
The pinks, browns, and oranges are what the earth gives me. Working with the richness of the ground, I'm aware of several concepts at once. I'm constructing a painted space with materials from my surroundings, fixing a certain place onto each painting. Also, the structures we build are extensions of ourselves. Which, in turn reminds me of the story of Creation in which God forms Man out of the dust. Dust is a material of creation. It also serves as a reminder of the transience of man. We are of dust, as are the things we build.
I love the cloud-like shape in "Around." What's the origin of that form?
Many of the shapes arrived by taking a child-like approach to the composition. Memory skews things, simplifies things, especially things you remember as a child. The cloud shape came (somewhat unintentionally) from imagining my family sitting at our dining room table and looking down at them from above.
Do you ever work on a larger scale?
Right now I'm working on a 4' x 4' painting, with a couple more large panels in waiting. I am feeling the need to work larger, to create an environment in paint. However, I usually work small, because I like the intimate scale and because it uses a lot of paint to work larger. I probably need to hire an apprentice at some point! It's a difficult balance, not letting the paint get too precious to use.