The power of a painting has to come from the inside out, not from outside influences.
How do I begin? Usually with hesitation and much contemplation. But washes of oil and mineral spirits, wide brush strokes, mark making with pencil or oil stick, silkscreen or actual writing start the process of painting. I set the works in motion, yet I am the only one speaking. Eventually the painting will start engaging me and that is the beginning of our conversation. Initially, there might have been something that captivated my imagination, something I saw or heard, an unusual color combination in nature or some found object or shape. Whatever it might be, that is the significant thought that I want to explore, to pull from my imagination, to see where and how it develops. I think about how to elevate things forgotten, small moments, little wonders, mysteries and miracles. How I interpret what I have seen or heard is always an adventure. I never know what the outcome is going to be and that is the beauty and the struggle of the process. The painter Morris Kantor, once said, “If you already know what you are going to do, why do it?” Many times, the thought I started with doesn’t work as I become involved with the rest of the painting - I must be willing to surrender to the direction in which the painting is moving and let go of that sentimental part. I am always learning and making new discoveries. By using different materials when approaching my work, it involves overcoming fear of unknown results and having courage to move forward and with belief in myself. Painting puts all my thoughts and decisions, emotions and my inner self in a permanent form - a painting - so in that way, I am revealing myself and become very vulnerable. Yet I want to find strength through that vulnerability.
Paul Matisse, Cy Twombly and Agnes Martin are just a few of the many artists I admire. Matisse’s color and loose forms, Twombly’s audacity and whimsical markings and Agnes Martin’s elegant minimalism inspire me yet I must find the right vessel to reflect who I am. When a style doesn’t correspond to an artist’s personal needs, it appears merely borrowed. My approach is always moving in an up and down and sideways order, not in a linear upwards fashion, but more cyclical and more unpredictable. But how do I know when a painting is done? When I look at it with fresh eyes and I am honest with myself, I must be convinced - convinced of its value and strength and be drawn to the work. A painting is made with a series of choices; many times it is a battle, but it demands discipline to finish and meet my highest standards.
The power of a painting has to come from the inside out, not from outside influences. It is not just an image; it’s an image with a body and that body has to contain its spirit. A painting, really, is made by its reason for being there - the weight of the intention. What’s behind it decides everything. It’s inner secret cannot be resolved or formalized or passed on as a repeatable process. It has to be reborn and this is especially true of painting, which depends on extreme human effort and expression. I try to be an artist who can provoke empathy, one who completes your thought, an artist who makes visual what we feel. It testifies to the beauty of imperfect human thought and action mixed up with feeling. That’s my “Continued Pursuit.”
- Sharon Booma, 2020