Art is about the individual artist who creates it. As a result, when we see an artwork we are seeing the hand, mindset, and soul of the artist who creates it. Especially in abstract art, emotions can become a main player in the call and response of mark making. When an artist goes through a physical or mental change, how much does the transition appear in their work?
Eileen Power is one of our recently exhibited abstract artists. In her artist statement, she claims:
“These paintings are about space and energy and the paint. While my paintings are greatly influenced by "place", reflecting the light, color and atmosphere where they are made, the soul of the work is internal and drawn from personal memories and relationships and the feelings generated by such. The dialogue begins with the first mark on the surface. While the color sets the mood the marks and shapes tell the story.”
Eileen recently moved from Kiawah back to her hometown of Atlanta, GA. When she brought in her new work for the opening, we saw a transition in her visual style from the older work we have in inventory. Wondering if her recent move from the beach to an urban landscape was the cause for this change, I asked her how she creates and integrates her experience into her abstractions.
“I grew up in an urban environment on the east coast. That sense of space and energy impacts my art. My teacher said we each have a sense of space that’s “baked in”, if you will and formed very early in life. A great example is the minimalist work of Agnes Martin whose work is in the collections of most outstanding museums around the world. She grew up in the flat plains of western Canada. A train passing through the town could be seen long after it passed the station because the land was so flat. The artist is most well known for her minimalist, horizontal stripes painted with great precision.
The view from my studio while living in the low country, while beautiful, was one flat plane after the next. Perfect for plein air marsh scenes, not so great for my type of work! Resisting the the calm, horizontal line so obvious in the low country was a challenge. I even turned my easel away from the view to resist having it influence my work.
I am very happy to be back in Atlanta. It’s a city of high design and great architecture.
Currently, someone I love is experiencing cognitive loss. I find myself “masking” the work. Covering large sections of paintings with grey or white shapes. While the paint is still wet I draw into it removing some of the mask allowing light and color to reveal itself. Originally, this “graying out” was unconscious. Critiquing my own work --something all artists do-- revealed this to me. It confirms my belief “art is the teacher”. Creating allows an artist’s unconscious feelings to reveal themselves in the paint.
Earlier, in my painting career returning to the studio after time away was always uncomfortable. It took days to hit my stride. Now, the opposite seems to be true. I absorb so much when traveling and come back with a renewed spirit and energy.
Grace Hartigan, one of the exceptional woman abstract expressionists of the last century, said we all have certain gifts, at the rest we have to work. Hartigan’s work was on display at the Mint during the record breaking show, “Women of Abstract Expressionism”. My gift is a keen sense of color. Sometimes I see a color or combination of colors so beautiful it imprints itself in my memory. I then find it appearing weeks later as I mix paint. I’m blessed with the ability to see and remember color.” --Eileen Power
Come in to Shain Gallery to see some of Eileen’s new work and experience her transition and visual style yourself!