Butler notes that: "Although she works abstractly, Joelson is fiercely interested in politics and current events, and the daily agitation prompted by the news informs her work. We had a long conversation about the aesthetic choices artists make, and how those choices can be rooted in matters well outside the history of painting. She showed me one series on paper that references newspapers, and her use of Islamic patterning quietly but clearly reflects her ongoing concern about the dire political challenges of the Middle East... Process has independent meaning for Joelson: how she creates images and objects is as important as they are."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Alison Hall.
Hall remarks that while the subject may be veiled in an abstract painting, its feeling gets "embedded into the work. I think the spirit of that can be felt in an abstract way. It's not like you can identify it or name it, but I think there are feelings inside of [the paintings] that when you view them you get close to that experience."
In a recent statement, Hall wrote: "One would think that, in making paintings about pattern, there would be a defined beginning and end, an image that’s certain and void of breathing room. But that’s wrong. I feel as if I never know the ending. The mistakes keep you from knowing the ending."
Maria Calandra visits the studio of painter Jason Stopa.
Calandra writes: "I was first taken by blasts of color, animated brush strokes, and confectionery connotations. After spending more time with them, Stopa's paintings' unique relationship to language reveals itself, recalling Haiku poetry in particular. They have a similar directness of description, even in their abstraction, that almost hovers above their subject matter. With as few as three parts coming together in many of his newer works, he is able to simply but potently construct a perspective for the viewer, similar to the way a poem would for a reader. And his use of certain symbolic characters as a verbal punctuation mark is a perfect way to signal the moment that the juxtaposed elements coalesce."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter Judy Rifka about her work and career.
Rifka comments: "In dance, you are in a place, then you think about where you want to go, and then you go there. You make a body out of your intentions of where you want to go, and that is a physical connection. In painting, you put one thing down, then you think about where you want to put another thing, and so on. After that, it looks like some kind of space is built up. Hans Hofmann talked about this. However, there is no actual space in painting: that space always becomes an emotional connection. Making a physical connection of your intention is the same as growth, the same as how any form works, how a pseudopod works, how evolution works. You decide where you want to go, you go there, and then you build a body to go there. This becomes the form. So the space disappears, and a form, or a body, comes out of it.... Socrates said, 'I listen to my oracles.' That idea — that we have a voice inside our head telling us what to do — you listen to that. In painting, I listen to it."
Zachary Keeting and Christopher Joy visit the studio of painter Marina Adams.
Adams comments: "I don't like to dictate too much, I like to 'allow.' ... [in abstract art] you create a space for thought as opposed to dictating a thought... The work feeds itself; the work leads me along. So in that respect it's very different. There is work where people have an idea and then they fabricate it, and that's one way of working. This work is not produced in that way... I have ideas about things but I do also like to have the work inform me."
Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting visit the studio of painter Paul Behnke.
Asked about the pleasure inherent in the experience of pure color, Behnke comments: "I think of my color as more anxiety... color can serve as a segue into the work... the color makes them more accessible... an then ... when things settle down and you spend more time with the piece it starts to be a little grating." Expressing a preference for more traditional picture space versus an all-over approach to abstraction, Behnke notes: "I don't like a lot of chaos ... I want there to be important forms and then lesser forms, important colors and lesser colors. I want there to be that hierarchy in the imagery."
John Bunker, Anthony Smart, Anne Smart, Robin Greenwood, Sarah Greenwood, Alexandra Harley, Patrick Jones, Sam Cornish, Mark Skilton, Hilde Skilton, and Nick Moore visit the studio of painter Emyr Williams.
Alexandra Harley: The "passage of colour isn’t just pure. It may be a pure colour all the way through but the juxtapositions of the other colours around it are changing that colour immensely."
Anne Smart: "I know [Williams' paintings] are going to be about colour, but If I try to forget that, what comes out really strongly is how they make me feel… and I’m minded to think of a painting that relates to both of them: Monet’s 1860 “Women the Garden”, and what that does for me, and what I have always felt strongly about, is the light in it; and both these paintings articulate what light does, and I feel a strong presence of that light and what that sensation can give you spatially."
Robin Greenwood: "The elements in the painting are so much more demanding than one stripe next to another. I feel I’ve seen that sort of thing before – you know, beautifully coloured stripes… but here, I’ve never seen anything quite like this before."
Wren comments: "I have always liked the idea that in painting you can make space visible. It’s something that you just move through without thinking about in real life, but in painting, it can be an actual thing. It is a color. It is a feeling. I think of the space in my paintings as a tangible presence, as real of a thing as an object... My experience of nature is usually what makes me want to paint. Specific moments outdoors will spark something that I want to explore in paint. Sometimes that initial inspiration carries all the way through and sometimes it’s only a beginning point and the painting takes off in another direction. But it always feels important to have a connection to some sort of lived experience outside of the studio."
Larry Groff interviews painter Kyle Staver about her work and career.
Staver comments: "Composition is the delivery system, there are lots of different aspects of how the painting delivers its message. You need to have the horse firmly in hand or else you can’t do it. Composition helps me contain it and release the message in the way I want it... I think of the canvas as an arena… I set up my rules, something going to happen and the painting must resolve, I don’t leave them hanging. Everything has to be accounted for, every piece of the painting has to be introduced and informed and in working order with the rest of the painting. There is nothing casual about the components of my painting’s relationships to everything else. There is nothing that I’ll let go. It’s like cat’s cradle and I’m in charge. How do I know if it’s working or not? It’s not a plan as if I were dismembering a bomb or something. You can read all you want about composition but until you’re there and you have your hands on; you can’t know. So it’s only in knowing the painting, so I feel my way through and I trust that. That’s my job."
Megan Liu Kincheloe visits the studio of painter Daniel Herr.
Herr comments that "some of [the paintings] actually just start as a crude drawing of a figure, or a crude object, or a word, or I’ll have a picture I took some place to begin with as a compositional set piece. There’s kind of everything in every painting. It’s sort of absurd. I will start with an idea, and I’ll try forcing and forcing it, then I’ll just abandon it, and ride the wave to somewhere else. Ultimately, it becomes a different thing ... paint and the interaction between two wet colors has always been what I’ve been most interested in—the 'chord changes.' That said, I’m really into the way of thinking associated with collage—the randomness, the everyday, Dada, stream-of-consciousness, disorienting subject matter, and turning something on its head."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.