My work in still life began with small colored pencil drawings on index cards done when I was traveling in France in 1977. My drawings were my postcards, stamped and mailed. On my return home I continued to make small colored pencil drawings that recorded daily kitchen and table subjects. Over time the drawings became larger and I began using oils in the mid 80’s.
It has been commented that the viewpoint from above in many of my still lifes is unusual. My response is that we see things this way all the time – as we walk by a counter or as we’re about to sit down at a table. This vantage point is also connected, as I was conscious of only after the fact, with my love of maps and interest in floor plans.
FLOWERS AND GARDEN LANDSCAPES
Exuberance of plant life in general and flowers specifically remain a constant source of inspiration and pleasure in my life.
Most of these paintings were inspired by construction equipment and water. More specifically, from the vantage point of a New York City terrace undergoing repairs I was inspired by the arcs of cables, nets, ropes, hooks and pulleys as seen against the right angles of the city skyline and the skyline reflected in the Central Park reservoir. Other city views here are from the parlor floor of a New York brownstone.The diminutive size of these paintings is a reminder of the view through a small opening in a construction fence.
I first saw the knitted textiles of my friend Betsy Lahaussois in 1995. In some pieces wide-striped knitted tubes were crocheted together to make large throws. In cropping photographs of these draped covers I found compositions that were clearly dimensional and evocative of wider spaces. Dawn landscapes, winter hills, and wheat fields are some of the forms in which these compositions came to life.
I’m inspired by and grateful for what I find in my friends’ gardens: a green cabbage in full sun, or red cabbages with their blue-grey-green outer leaves with magenta veins.
My first Christmas puzzle was made in 1977 for a very practical reason: giving a Christmas dinner from a very small New York apartment kitchen, I was looking for half-time entertainment to keep my guests occupied while I washed dishes between dinner and dessert. The answer was a sackful of wooden puzzle pieces with an assembly time calculated to closely match dishwashing time.
Early puzzles, drawn with oil crayon on ¼” plywood, were cut with a hand-held coping saw. With the purchase of an industrial scroll saw in 1986 the style changed dramatically. I started using oil paint for the images, for durability, and was able to make intricate and interlocking pieces with the new electric saw.
Unlike traditional puzzles the ‘edges’ of these aren’t sacred and can’t be easily put together first. The painted or collaged borders delineate the general area of action but not the limit. Something is always extending through or beyond this delineated range. Games of three-dimensional illusion within the two-dimensional surface occur in all these puzzles.
Why cut up an original painting or collage? Because I love puzzles! These compositions were always intended to be puzzles, things to play with and not just shaped paintings.
One appeal of these puzzles is the animation of the cutting line tracery within the assembled puzzle. Also appealing is the animation of individual pieces. Though the cuts are not planned, some of the resulting pieces suggest lively animate forms, while others are animated simply by colors and shapes. Each piece bears consideration.
Puzzles are usually confined to horizontal surfaces. With specially designed frames these puzzles can now be hung on a wall. The hinged frame opens to allow the rectangular tray, the puzzle plus its ‘mat’, to be lifted out and the puzzle pieces to be removed for play.
As an interior designer and builder as well as a painter I’ve long had an affinity for tools and wood. I’ve also had training in modern dance and singing. The painting and cutting of puzzles speaks to all these interests. In using the scroll saw the blade is stationary and the wood must be turned and turned. Guiding my painting through the saw is a slow, maze-like, rhythmical and smooth dance.