Monday, February 4, 2013


 One Big Love # 74, oil on panel, 10 x 14.5", 2012

What are you working on in your studio right now?
I’m working on a couple of things. One is a group of paintings that are an extension of the “One Big Love” series that’s been ongoing since 2007. These new paintings are also on small shaped panels, but the shapes of these deliberately accentuate and exaggerate the weighty draping aspects of the paint.
The other series is a development from an earlier group of tall narrow vertical paintings where I used the format to stack layers of dimensional color as a metaphor for layers of geological time. In these new paintings I’ve gotten rid of the stacking, which is static and fixed, and instead am focusing on articulating moments of transformation. These panels are slightly wider at the bottom, giving a heightened sense of velocity.
I’ve also been working on a curatorial proposal that examines the work of three artists who use science and technology to articulate their personal relationships to nature in the context of a highly mediated and technological society. 

Can you describe your working routine?
I go to the studio every day from around 11AM – 5PM, unless I have other specific plans. I try to take care of any writing, administration or phone calling in the morning and get to work right after lunch. Having a computer at the studio however, is a blessing and a curse. I find it very hard to resist checking email and Facebook messages constantly!  
I generally have around 5 or 6 panels going on at a time, but they don’t all require the same amount of focus and deliberation. Some paintings simply need another layer of color applied and left to dry, where others call for some sort of resolution. The new vertical paintings particularly, offer me a welcomed opportunity to paint more a-la-prima passages that actually describe something happening graphically, which is not generally the case with my work. So this is something new that I’m excited about.

Rag # 13, oil on panel, 10 x 12.5", 2012
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I’ve had the same studio in Hell’s Kitchen since 1986. I share the floor with two other artists, of whom one is my husband, sculptor Don Porcaro. I came into the space after he and another painter were already established there, and it was impossible to redraw the studios without extensive rebuilding. So I have my workspace in one corner of the floor, and all my storage, flat files and the computer in another.
The work-space is about 12’ x 40’ with a bank of drafty windows facing the Hudson. A long work-table is up against the windows and I have a small desk on the opposite side. This gives me one long wall and a smaller wall at the North end of the space to hang paintings. I also keep a folding work-table out in the middle of the floor where I can have books open for reference and work on larger pieces. The South end of the studio has a small kitchen and some bookshelves.
If I had a wider space, it would allow me to designate a clean area to do works on paper while my paintings were in progress. I’ve on occasion done some small drawings without disturbing my painting setup. But for anything larger or more ambitious, I tend to switch gears completely until that body of work is finished. It’s not ideal.

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
I start with the given shape of a panel, which quite honestly determines nothing. But it gives me a starting point, which is more dynamic and demanding than a square or a rectangle. I tend to build up several layers of color over time, and once dry to the touch but still soft underneath, I’ll manipulate them in various ways. This is the point at which the painting begins to demand a resolution. If I can’t resolve it, I’ll scrape the whole thing off, or parts of it off and keep the paint for future use as collage material for another painting.  While I may have ideas or intentions in mind that relate to geology or gravity for example, or perhaps even the work of another artist, I find that my conceptual foundation solidifies and clarifies itself as a result of working over time and allowing the process be fluid. Otherwise I risk the seduction of staying in my comfort zone and that gets stale fast. It’s a balancing act of maintaining that perfect tension between anticipation, control and letting it go.
Leslie Wayne:Recent Work from John Reynolds & Lee Donaldson on Vimeo.

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I often find it difficult to translate what I do into a graphic language that makes sense on paper. I’m not interested in making drawing versions of my paintings, so it would need to be something that feels conceptually and materially right. I find Ken Price to be a wonderful role model for that.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I work almost exclusively in oil as I find its properties suit my need to manipulate the paint over long periods of time. Acrylic dries too fast for me to accomplish what I want.

What does the future hold for this work?

It’s hard to know. I always feel most excited about the newest work, but it’s very difficult to gage how I’ll feel in six months. Sometimes I think I’m ready for a show, and then I finish a new piece that so far surpasses the previous ones that I want to throw half of it away. I think I’m getting close to building enough to have my next show in another year. My last solo exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery was 2010. Given their current program schedule and my other commitments, I think I’m about on target.


Untitled (yelloworangeteal),
oil on wood, 34 x7 ", 2013

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I periodically write down things I’ve read which strike a chord and I’d like to share some of them here. Thank you for this opportunity to engage with your readers.

“I keep trying to improve my control over language, so that I won’t have to tell lies.”
  Stanley Kunitz
“All relationships arise from the fact that reality is a magic poorly understood.”
  Frederick Sommer
“Think! Think! Think!”
  Winnie the Pooh
“People prefer that you condense; they find it quite natural for life to be condensed on films. . .they prefer that because they can catch onto the meanings and keep ahead of the movie. But that’s boring. I won’t make shorthand films. In my films there’s a competition with the audience to keep ahead of them.”
  John Cassavetes
 “Like art, film should be fake but completely believable. Faking is a ritual of representing.”
  Federico Fellini
 “Abstraction is precisely not grounded in universality, but in individual experience and sensibility…based on a process of invention and constant debate, not on corollaries for the discovery of existing truths.” It is about “the constant ‘correction’ or getting closer to absolute order…”
  Kirk Varnedoe
“The greatest art always returns you to the vulnerability of the human situation.” 
  Francis Bacon
“…paint as a structural element, not a surfacing.”
  Rob Storr on Elizabeth Murray
A technique is a technique of the body. It formulates and amplifies the metaphysical structure of our flesh.”
 Merleau Ponty
“It’s a long long preparation for a few moments of innocence.”
 “[Guston’s painting is] not so much a picture as a direct imprint of duration. . .”
  Rob Storr on Guston
“(Asian paintings) made me wonder who I was. By contrast, Western painters tried to tell me who they were.”
 John McLaughlin
 “Art is the highest form of hope.”
  Gerhard Richter
“I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”
 S. Beckett
 “What matters in painting is pushing the mundane toward the instant of transcendence...”
   James Elkins
“The meaning of a sign is the response to it.”
  Dave Hickey
“Visceral responses to an image…are inevitably avenues to meaning.”
“Repetition lies at the heart of meaning…recognition is repetition.”
“[Joan] Mitchell wanted to hold on to her landscapes, to seize the ‘out there’ through the ‘in  here,’ to depict the mysterious flux of perception, not as it’s immediately seen, but as it’s remembered and felt in the body.”
 Siri Hustvedt, from “Mysteries of the Rectangle”

One Big Love #71, oil on panel, 10 x 14.5", 2012