It is satisfying to paint a face of a completely lived life. As I paint each old woman, I think about her inner life, her story - who she used to be and who she is now, and how I can show it. The physical part of painting aging is also compelling; I like the topography of the eyelid drapes, droopy jowls, neck flab, and the asymmetry of the wrinkled face.
Old, old people, the majority of whom are women, make us uncomfortable. They unnerve us; not only because their bodies are frail and slow, but because they remind us that, if we are lucky, we will be just like them someday. This fear makes us wary to engage and see them as they really are; we'd rather dismiss the inevitable and convince ourselves that our own aging will be different. It’s easier to ignore them and make them invisible.
But they deserve to be painted and celebrated. These women are living the old, old life and figuring it out. They are our guides. Almost all of them are looking directly at us and nudging us, the “not yet old,” to see what’s next, and face up to the coming attraction.
Improvisational theater showcases spontaneity and fearless exploration; but, like jazz, improvisational theater actually has an essential structure underlying the performance of “something wonderful right away.” This structure gives spontaneous explorations coherence and allows artistic choices to gain clarity by building upon each other. My background in improvisational theater speaks to how I paint abstracts: big, bold, figurative abstracts; cartoonish and flirty drawings that become paintings with masses of color and unafraid brush work; figurative beginnings improvised to abstraction. It’s a process of answering questions and improvising solutions, acknowledging the original figure by observing the lines and shapes and then playing with the motion and rhythm and how the shapes fit together and push and pull on each other, all the time wrestling with how to address the drama and the calm. When people look at my paintings, I want them to follow the lines, colors and shapes and be curious as they discover figurative and non-objective elements and surprises. I want them to enjoy the expressive lines, notice the movement and texture of the brush strokes, and be thrilled with the colors. I want them to be entertained and see spontaneity through a new lens.