My travels to various countries and cultures inspire my paintings. Mexico, South America and India have taught me about color as it is embraced in daily life in markets, homes and crafts. I have an interest in the utilitarian and often overlooked creations of ordinary people. In working with and referencing their crafts and art as a taking-off point for my painting, I am commemorating both these creators and their “ordinary” lives, lives which are similar to those of my mid western grandparents who were dairy farmers and coal miners.
The potholder series, my most recent group of paintings, uses a single central image: a digital copy of a scanned potholder, which I glue to canvas. Often I make several versions of the same image to see how it can be varied. The simple repetitive geometry reminds me of the meditative qualities of Tantric forms. Some potholders were made by my mother or passed down from my family. Others were acquired at flea markets and yard sales, and my feeling is that as I work I dialog with the original creator.
In the circle paintings, I begin with a simple compositional device of repetitive circular shapes, which, although very similar in size, are completely individual within. I explore varied arrangements, stacking one on top of another, or allowing the design elements to drift horizontally across the canvas in rows. I add or subtract these until they find their place. Within each circle I create a unique small universe of seemingly unrelated images, patterns, and materials: Mexican oilcloth, Con Ed envelopes, glitter, and whatever disparate elements seem somehow to go together. The challenge is to make contrast yet keep a related whole.
The essential framework for the large “complicated” paintings is a grid, upon which I paint or collage with a wide array of collected materials, building layers of intertwined forms. The compositions are improvised and no one form dominates. These are all over, egalitarian paintings--the opposite of minimal. My goal is to see not how little but how much I can include. As I paint, a color palette emerges, and forms grow and come forward while others are pushed back as they are covered over. Negative space is minimal. I use things that I may find “boring” and make them “interesting” by changing their context. In retrospect, the structure of this group of work reflects the jostling, crowded side of urban life, though initially this was not a conscious intention.
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© Susan Daykin 1993-2015 Web site poulakisdesign.com