Theresa Vandenberg Donche’s Quarantine Rooms

Since the COVID19 shutdown, Theresa Vandenberg Donche has been painting abstracted rooms.  The empty rooms, she says, are about “exploring the tension between the reality of space and the illusion of the moment, between existence and imagination, convention and freedom, perspective and abstraction.”  In these pieces “perspectives are purposely skewed to create an off-balance” sensation, mysterious doorways lead to the unknown, and pent up energy is conveyed with the use of line.   Volume, color and scale convey “uncertainty of what’s to come.”

Susan Darnall, Chase the Wind

“Painting is poetry, where strokes sing and resonate within you.

Painting is a symphony, color & strokes melding together creating perfect beauty, together and alone.  Music grabs a hold & takes me into the painting process. Leading me to color & shape. It is an emerging, delicious process. Discovering unplanned surprises within leads me along. The energy of thick textural strokes mixed with transparent layers allow much depth, movement and harmony.

My motivation is to portray the inherent beauty and synchronicity that exists in the inter-relationship of color, composition and form.

I want my work to emanate a constant pulse of joy, positive energy & excitement to and for the viewer.

Each painting resulting in a delightful discovery of things unseen, drawing the viewer in, a blithesome trip to a new place.”

Susan Darnall

Susan Darnall is a contemporary painter of expressive vibrant abstract works.  She captures nature’s vitality within her multi layered acrylic/oils and encaustic wax pieces. Her inspiration comes from nature, texture, color and energy. Enlarged bright florals, splashy seascapes, sweeping clouds, shimmering skies, winged & finned creatures emerge through layers of paint. Susan’s work captures the spirit and movement around us.

Nadine Baurin, In Continuum

“I paint for the joy and thrill of being fully present in the moment. Visually intertwined in a seemingly controlled chaos, my art presents to the viewer a juxtaposition of randomness and precision, of boldness with a touch of emotional subtlety.

My inclination toward an interconnectedness with others inspires my art. While I have my own interpretation about the finished piece, it is in the emotional effect my paintings evoke in their viewers that I find a confirmation of our interconnection; and it’s through this unspoken dialogue that the artwork comes to life.”

Nadine Baurin

Nadine Baurin describes her work as minimal representational, letting her paintings come to light in an intuitive manner: “after applying paint to my canvas” she states “I wait and let the images emerge. Like the child who carves images from clouds, I step away from the literal and attempt to paint what I perceive and feel.” Nadine currently splits her time between Santa Cruz and San Diego and her artworks can be found in private collections throughout the United States and also abroad as far as Argentina, France and Australia.

Maite Agahnia and Spontaneity

“Working in wax is therapeutic. Mixing, applying, texturizing, adding, taking away, and fusing, are all steps that create an elaborate dance, most often with spontaneous results. Because with encaustic I have to let go of some control, I am able to free myself of constraints in my original idea. Wax forces me to lose rigidity while connecting emotionally to the piece.”

In college I took a poetry writing seminar.  We were all into stream-of-consciousness free verse. The professor forced us to learn all the formal aspects of poetry – meter, rhyme, rhythm, all of it.  We had to write sonnets.  Shakespearian sonnets!  Near the end of the semester he finally let us write free verse; and guess what!  Our writing was so much better.   Maite Agahnia’s work makes me think of that class.  There is great technical virtuosity underlying the spontaneity.  In the composition, shape, color, texture, the layering of the wax and the scraping and gouging it away, we sense experience and a hard-won wisdom.  She has learned her sonnets and earned the right to free verse.  The results are delightful.

Kathleen Kane-Murrell on the Evolution of Her Work

“It is through art history and art making that I best understand the human condition and, in particular, what it means and has meant to be female.”

Kathleen Kane-Murrell is a long-time art educator and San Diego artist. Her work has been shown in solo and group shows throughout Southern California.  In today’s blog post she writes about the evolution of her practice:

“I believe artists have critical voices necessary for an evolved society. The legacy of art making matters to my process. Through color, texture, and high touch surfaces, my work tends to focus on memory, specific places, and experiences.  Repetition of shapes and patterns consistently emerge often with a connection to nature and environment.

I am drawn to the high and low of art making—from the classically trained to the spontaneous creation of young artists. I work in a variety of media and am influenced by the everyday including the curriculum I create for my children’s art program. My mixed media work often incorporates classroom detritus. I value the freedom to experiment with materials and subject matter.

As I evolved into an abstract artist, there always seemed to be the thread of a narrative.  I usually do not feel compelled to explain to the viewer. Viewers bring their own point of view. So, if a description becomes needed, “abstractly narrative in multiple media” describes the art I make.

The work created for Fresh Paint’s 20/20: Women of Vision is from my Moss series. It speaks to the power of renewal and growth. Moss grows in unlikely places.  It Is often ignored, as I feel women have been.  Yet, like moss, we are complicated, necessary, and strong. We are formed by the challenges we face just as moss grows to the shape of the contours below the surface.  Our strength as we slide in and out of a pandemic speaks to persistence and regeneration. I remain positive.”

Julia San Roman: Dissociation

“I am trying to develop an infinite mystical order out of either expressionistic or atmospheric chaos.  In the midst of a void, I am creating a space in which to give dignity to my own dream, mankind’s dream, to find a dignity that might include all living things.”

Julia San Roman’s current work is inspired by the California Light and Space Movement of the 1960s and 70s.  She calls this work “bilingual” in that it integrates “geometric abstraction with naturalistic light episodes.”  Being bilingual is second nature to San Roman.  She was born and raised in Madrid, and migrated to San Diego in 1988; and she is both a scientist – holding a PhD in Biology – and an artist. This is her third time showing at Fresh Paint Gallery.  You can view a sampling of  her other work on our website.

San Roman’s two paintings in the 20/20 show are part of a series she calls “Dissociation.”  She writes “conceptually I was focusing on the light of hope, and formally I was separating the color from the subject matter and the subjects from themselves.  This intimate passage reflected my encounter with an old reality where my circumstances disengaged into the individual pieces without possibly interlocking in harmony, at a time of material loss, a time of great spiritual loss.  I wanted and I still want to have hope.”

Detail of Horizon II

Art Quilter Gillian Moss

Gillian Moss has been quilting for about 20 years. In 2008 she found the courage to submit a piece for a major quilt show in California and it was accepted.  Since that time, she says, she has been more focused as an artist and has developed her own voice and style.  Moss is considered an up-and-coming quilter to watch, having had work in several major juried shows. 

The love of color and pattern is what drives my designs. I was never a quilter who worked from patterns or kits; so it has taken a while to find my voice.  Now found, this voice has been getting louder and clearer and today I feel more sure of my design direction.”

Some quilts are narrative — based on stories or events in her life. Others are abstract art quilts, evolved from working with the fabric, color and pattern. You will find little observations and some quirky Irish humor thrown in for good measure.

Moss’ three abstract quilts in the 20/20 show were inspired by the phrase “the devil is in the details” and by photographs taken on a recent (pre-COVID19) trip to London.   “The conversation between myself and images caught on camera — after editing and upon closer examination — is the ultimate result.”  Moss painted on canvas in bright colors. She then cut it up and stitched it onto the quilts in layers of freeform shapes.

Gail Titus: Texture and Depth

“My work is physical, spontaneous and intuitive, particularly in the beginning stages of a painting.  As a painting progresses, I become more discerning and methodical until I feel that the painting is resolved.”  Gail Titus

Gail Titus began her artistic career as a ceramicist, creating wall sculptures and large installation work.  Eventually, however, her interest turned to surface development and texture exploration.  It was a natural transition to move from clay to canvas. 

Surface development is a focal point of Titus’s large abstract paintings.  She uses a variety of tools, brushes and techniques to create depth and texture.  In the artwork for this show, a smaller format than she normally works in, Titus experimented with adding fabric and hand embroidery to build up the surface of her work,  the thick layers creating interesting nooks and crannies, places for the eye to linger.  It is as if, being smaller in size than her usual work, these are denser, more concentrated.   We can see in the layers the fascinating history of their development.  I especially like the layering of paint on top of heavy cotton lace in Metamorphosis 1.  Titus has taken something traditionally soft and feminine and changed it into something strong and solid. Taking the metamorphosis metaphor a bit further, the end result of the transmutation is perhaps not so much delicate butterfly as metamorphic rock.

Detail of Metamorphosis 1

Recently, Titus has taken this new experiment further: “The stay in place orders due to the pandemic have allowed me the time to further my exploration and experimentation in my paintings. I am digging even deeper into fabric application, freeform knitting and crocheting, and applying embroidery into and onto my abstract, painted canvases. “ 

Titus has found the Covid19 shutdown fruitful.  “Not having the usual distractions of a normal life” she says, has freed up her time to be devoted to painting.  She says “As much as I long for the freedoms that existed before the pandemic, I am relishing the additional studio hours and freedom from outside distractions. The vast hours of alone, uninterrupted time lends itself to quiet contemplation regarding the development of my art.”

Ellen Dieter on Recent Events

20/20 artist Ellen Dieter sends these musings from her studio today, looking back at the past few months:

“Saturday March 7th was our TWA Twenty Women of Vision reception at Fresh Paint Gallery and was soon about to be what we called a last hurrah before the world changed forever. 

On March 12, the school where my daughter works and where my grandsons go to school sent an email that the school would be closed effective immediately. It was a Thursday night. My grandson was to go to his 6th grade dance on Friday.  Canceled. He was to have his last game of the playoffs that Sunday.  Canceled. The world was on high alert because of this coronavirus. My daughter and grandchildren were living with me, which meant our lives were about to change in a profound way.

On March 19th, our Governor Gavin Newsom declared a house arrest type situation. We were all to shelter-in-place unless deemed essential workers. We were in a pandemic.

As I look back and remember these past three months, I have a hard time believing that we have all done what we have done and that we are here. I couldn’t have believed that my daughter and my grandsons and I could make it through the rest of the school year with what we now call distance learning. I would never have guessed that I would be part of a “drive-by birthday” and more recently arrange a “drive-by” baby shower. I didn’t want to believe that our trips would be canceled, that the museums would shutter, that the world would close down.

Who knew my daughter would learn how to make movies and I’d be filming her so she could teach her classes on-line, or that we would be making videos of the boys snowboarding down the stairs, and surfing in rain puddles. My 6-year-old grandson learned how to add by playing monopoly and the 11-year-old has become a real estate tycoon.

As for me and my art, I had to return to late night painting as my days were taken up with well, what I was just talking about and oh so much more.

At first it seemed the work didn’t change.  I was adding paint to canvas. However, when one is affected so greatly by one’s surroundings, it is a challenge to not be moved. 

I feel like the work I do takes on new meanings. I have always layered paint and shapes and colors only to take away, scratch and carve into to reveal what is underneath. Today the world itself is doing a lot of deconstructing.  We need to do a lot of deconstructing, so we can build new and more mindful ways of communicating. We need to stand together, #Black Lives Matter.

When I look at my paintings that are part of Twenty Women of Vision, I can’t help but see how relevant they still are, and maybe even more relevant because of our recent events. I see worlds and different views, creativity and challenge, a push and pull that I feel more now than ever.” 

Diane Hall: East meets West

“Through life’s many changes and challenges, it is revealed that through our pain and adversity we build our greatest strengths…” Diane Hall

In her twenties, Diane Hall studied Chinese brush painting under several Zen masters.  She uses traditional techniques masterfully blended with a contemporary sensibility to create works that are Western in their abstraction but Eastern in their Zen balance.

Hall’s starkly beautiful pieces in the 20/20 show are individual works of art; but they work together fabulously as a group.  The four form a narrative that reads from left to right.  Beginning with Prevailing Darkness, to Seeking Light, through Finding Balance to final Solacethey chronicle years during which Hall’s husband struggled with and eventually succumbed to frontal temporal dementia.  We don’t need to know this story to feel the power of these pieces, however.  In the gallery, viewers are immediately and instinctively drawn to their minimalism and mystery.  The progression of the visual narrative, from complexity to simplicity, feels right and natural.  We respond to it intuitively.  And intellectually we understand the technical virtuosity and the years of experience that go into the choices Hall makes – this line precisely here, that one there.  As usual, the pictures don’t do the work justice.  You must come see for yourself.