Denise Driscoll: Noticing

There is one more weekend to view Kay and Denise's spectacular show Conceal and Reveal. If you go on Sunday at 3:00 you can hear the artists talk about their work and ask them questions too! I asked Denise to share some of her thoughts about the early stages of her paintings, color and how she knows when a piece is done. You can read about her process below.

  Inner Garden 29 work-in-progress: Underpainting

 Inner Garden 29 work-in-progress: Underpainting

Most of my paintings have two stages, an under-painting developed by layering and color with overlapping shapes, and the dots, which usually float on the surface.  Sometimes dots are underneath, and sometimes there are no dots, but that is the basic pattern.

Building an under-painting takes time and each one is a process of discovery. I use a lot of transparent color and am often surprised by the colors that develop as layers of paint overlap. I take a lot of photos along the way, and sometimes wish I had stopped a day or two earlier. But this feels much like life, a certain beauty and balance are achieved that is momentary and breathtaking, only to be altered as new complexities arise. I think the important thing is to notice these moments, in painting and in life.

 Inner Garden 29 work-in-progress: Dots

Inner Garden 29 work-in-progress: Dots

Once I begin adding dots, a new equilibrium is established. The dots, though very opaque, are small, and they become a semi-transparent veil that permits glimpses of what lies underneath.

 Inner Garden 29 work-in-progress: First dot layers

Inner Garden 29 work-in-progress: First dot layers

Originally, I used these dots over grids of circles and squares, but have shifted to ovals that overlap more organically. I have also found my focus shifting from the shapes themselves to the spaces that lie between the shapes, and the way these nets of space overlap and intersect with each other. The paintings in my studio right now all focus on these tangled nets of interconnection. Back in 1988, right when I got married, I became fascinated with Celtic knots, but the paintings that grew from this attraction were very unsatisfying. Over time, the painting process has led me back to that idea and I am really enjoying the results this time around.

 Inner Garden 29 work-in-progress: Final dot layer

Inner Garden 29 work-in-progress: Final dot layer

I have been asked how I know when a painting is finished. I am happiest with a painting when I can sit and look at it for a long, long time, and when it keeps my eyes shifting amid tiny intricacies long enough to quiet my mind and calm the chatter that keeps my thoughts small and on the surface. I feel like a painting is successful when it becomes a point of arrival or departure, and helps me move into or out of my self.

 Denise Driscoll, Inner Garden 29 (2017) , acrylic on panel, 48 x 36 in

Denise Driscoll, Inner Garden 29 (2017) , acrylic on panel, 48 x 36 in