My latest collection is very special to me for many reasons. Of course, all of my paintings are special in one way or another, but this project developed over several months and I had been thinking about what this collection would look like since August of 2018. I received an email from Nahcotta with an invitation to participate in their Enormous Tiny Art show, and I was surprised but obviously honored. I couldn’t believe my work was going to be in the same gallery that has exhibited work from someone like Lorraine Loots, an artist I have admired for years now. It felt like a major step in the pursuit of my life as an artist.
I knew I wanted this set to be my best work and I also knew it had to portray my vision as an artist in a cohesive, honest way. I began thinking about what I would paint back in August, and over the next few months, I started collecting images from my archives to put together an album of options on my phone. It would be exclusively Hawaii because those landscapes changed my life forever. Eventually, December came around and I finished up with my architecture residency at Specht Architects and flew back home to Chicago & began this collection of paintings for the show. Up until this point, I had been working full-time and painting in any spare moment I found, sharpening my skills for this set I expected to be “my best yet.”
The months leading up to this starting point were a very weird time in my life. I wasn’t expecting to spend six months in Austin. Rather, I thought that time would be spent in Chicago. Despite my almost five years in Austin, it never really felt like home to me: never permanent. These six months were especially lonely, because not only did I not have my family, but I also didn’t have my friends— they were doing residencies in other cities or states.
It’s been weird living this way, to have my life split in two. But as Lykke Li says, it is a privileged problem to have. I made the choice to go to school a plane ride away, to start my life over after high school and study something I thought I would truly love but that’s an entire other blog post.
The first painting of this collection was Treasure, a piece inspired by the beautiful beaches on the west coast of Oahu, a side of the island I hadn’t really explored. I remember that day at the beach, the sun melted everything around us and the sand was fire. The summer sun reflected on the bright blue water, sparkling as the waves rolled in. It was magic.
I started to paint the other pieces in small groups, and I wanted to do landscapes from at least a few of the islands, so I thought about my first few trips to Hawaii and included scenes from Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. I painted these with the experience of the last six months fresh on my mind while listening to sad songs almost exclusively. I feel like I can only paint when I feel something very deeply, otherwise why bother? I remembered the lonely nights and thought about all the moments where I wished I had been somewhere else, on a beach far away. At least that loneliness would have been pleasant to look at.
Isolation can be a beautiful thing. I learned to enjoy my own company, something I was already skilled at but had never experienced in such a large dose. I thought I would have been able to really focus on my architecture residency and paint like never before, which did happen, but it didn’t give me the sense of fulfillment I was longing for. It just felt like something was missing for a long time. I am very introverted in nature, I’m also very private about my life, but too much of something is never good. And this isolation was beautiful, but it was also very sad. With each painting, I let go of that feeling bit by bit, until that isolation faded away. I was home with my family and I spent a week in Mexico soaking up the sun and sea- letting myself recover in the comfort of the warm water.
I want this collection to make you feel at peace. With yourself, your situation, your relationships, your thoughts. I painted my favorite landscapes and they reminded me of beautiful days from my past, and more beautiful days that lie ahead. Your current situation is never permanent because life changes with every moment.
A Song With No End
You may view & shop the collection: here.
I finished the set of paintings and felt like I had nothing more to say, at least for a little while. Weeks passed and I didn’t paint for over a month after this collection was completed. I was waiting for that feeling of isolation to be replaced by something else… and it now has, so that is why I paint once more.