Fugitive Color I
Moving away from synthetic materials, the series Fugitive Color begins the exploration of natural pigments in my work and studio practice. This curiosity stems from a life-long interest in plants converging with my love of painting. I eagerly started this series with a limited foundation and vocabulary for a process that has a history both rich and vast. Working with plants to source pigment is a slow process, heavily dependent on the environment and time. While I have always felt that my work pertained to the subtleties of these elements, I was no longer led by my own timelines but those of the seasons-a welcome and surprising challenge to my studio practice.
Depending on the amount of exposure to light, the color derived from plants evolves over time. The vivid hues of purple and magenta from blueberries and pomegranates slowly turn to various shades of amber and grey. Observing this natural process, my first inclination was to find a solution to stop or delay the effect. After many years of being concerned with the archival quality of my work on paper, it was a gut reaction to “save” the work. A reaction which inevitably gave me the urge to return to synthetic paint, the medium I put aside to explore the natural process of making my own paint. In order to continue this series, I realized that I must accept the transformation in order to accept the fugitive nature of this color. It was in that realization that I was able to continue to explore and enjoy the natural evolution of color happening in front of me. The paintings in Fugitive Color I show the beginning of this process. The works have been photographed and will continue to be photographed to document the changes in color.
Guiding my initial research were the books and blogs of fiber artists who continue the tradition of natural dying with found plant material. I was inspired by their knowledge and process of sourcing color for fabric and wool from seasonal plants. For a historical perspective of the use of pigment I read Color: The Natural History of the Palette, a travelogue whose author researched and traveled to various geographic locations to explore the history of pigments across the world.
In past work, the formal language I used to describe my abstract paintings reflected my interest in color, organic forms intersecting with the hard lines of shapes that eventually evolved into a gesture thick with paint and intention. I compared my work to desire paths, as I always work on the floor, the movement of paint often relied on the slight slopes and bumps of the surface beneath the paper. Striations of paint emerged giving indications of time gone by. I studied the ideas behind psychogeography, how people move and relate to spaces around them. A favorite book, Spaces and Places by Yi Fu Tuan, was a constant reference for my previous work. The Fugitive Color series is a natural progression from these ideas given that the elements which remain constant are my love of color and working with subtle environmental phenomena beyond my control.