Paige Ring *New Artist*

artist statement. Paige Ring

In my work, I’m drawn to organic shapes, and how the medium moves and interacts on the canvas. I love the intuitive nature of abstract, and how it contrasts with the rigid structure of life’s responsibilities.

You’ll see in my work there’s a lot of bold gestural strokes, poured paint, and layering of organic marks and scrapes weaving through. I often use a limited palette with just a few colours. Colour tells a story all on its own, the technique of how the colour is applied, smooth and soft vs bold and loose, gives that story life. I paint mostly in acrylic and ink, but also resin, pastel and collage to create texture and depth. Although I use brushes, they aren’t my first tool of choice. A palette knife, squeegee or another type of scraping tool would be my first choice.

My inspiration comes from everywhere, but my drive to paint comes from the need to escape the realities of the world, to retreat into a playful, imaginary place where I can be less structured. When I create, I do so to quiet the world around me, to temporarily shut out the noise and chaos of life. When the energy is aligned, the work flows — easy, graceful, uncomplicated.

When a painting is in progress I tell myself stories about them, which sometimes I share. The truly beautiful thing about abstraction though is the opportunity for the viewer to tap into their own feelings, to see something all their own, so I try not to direct that process too much. Some artists don’t like to hear what others see in their abstract work, but I love it. I find it fascinating to hear how people connect abstract shapes and lines to concrete images in their mind. It’s a bit like a Rorschach inkblot, it gives me insight into what that person is looking for, and I just love that.

quick bio

I’m a self-taught, abstract expressionist painter living in Toronto, Ontario. My work often showcases gestural strokes, poured paint, layering, as well as organic marks and scrapes weaving through large areas of colour. My work is mostly in acrylic and ink, but also resin, pastel and collage to create texture and depth.

I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia in a small town just outside the city. I studied historic costume design and recreation at Dalhousie University and moved to Toronto, Ontario to attend the Academy of Design’s Fashion and Marketing program. In Toronto, I pursued a career in Fashion, creating womenswear for some of the world’s top departments stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Holt Renfrew, Harvey Nichols, and I also managed a women’s line for Wal-Mart Canada. I also studied Graphic Design, and currently, work as a creative director helping businesses with their brand and marketing strategy when I’m not in the studio painting.

“Untitled 3”, 30×30 inches, acrylic on raw canvas

“Untitled 1”, 40×40 inches, acrylic on raw canvas

 

INterview with the artist

CH: What are your goals for your art practice in 2020?

PR: My goal at the beginning of 2020 was to grow my practice sustainability, and participate in multiple shows throughout the year. When mid-January hit, and news of the pandemic was becoming widespread, my goals shifted. I set out to continue creating through the chaos, and find inspiration internally to keep my practice consistent.

With my newer series, “Broken Structures” (pictured below) I wanted to experiment with texture and surface, I shifted from organic shapes to structured line-work. It’s a diversion from the fluid work I usually do. I paint intuitively and I try not to over-analyze the work too much at the moment — but I feel like these newer, rough textures on raw canvas, with structured lines are a result of how uneasy I was feeling with the world.

While I’m still very much interested in exploring texture in-depth, and recently incorporating some sculpture element into my paintings, I’ve been looking to revisit an ongoing collection of inkblot paintings. I truly love capturing the fluidity and I’m fascinated by old Rorschach tests. I love hearing how people complete the abstract shapes they see in the ink. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before I combine the organic free shapes with textured elements.

“This Too Shall Pass”, 40×30 inches, acrylic on canvas

CH: Can you describe a typical day in the studio?

PR:  My studio space is fairly small even though I paint large work, so I have wall mounts to hang larger work however, I often work on the floor. A lot of my work was created horizontally actually, I love to pour and puddle paint, so it’s inevitable that I’ll end up on the floor at some point during the process.

My supplies are in a closet and I only really keep out two small carts that I need quick access to. I am minimalist in most aspects of my life, except art supplies which I have way too many of, but I do try to edit the supplies directly in front of me while I’m working. I plan experimental techniques outside of the studio where I can read and research so I can usually gather any new supplies before I start creating.

I don’t have any specific rituals when starting a painting, apart from music. I’ll usually find something pretty upbeat and carefree to start. Something that helps me get and stay loose. I am fairly consistent with starting a piece with some kind of mark-making if nothing else just to make the canvas a little flawed. Perfection is boring. I add marks throughout the process so my mark-making tools are always really close by.

I typically work on a number of paintings at once. I try not to pre-plan pieces to keep a loose expressive flow. I will plan a concept for a series of paintings, or a technique I’ve been wanting to experiment with, but the composition is usually not planned. I typically decide on the substrate, board or canvas, and choose a dark colour to contrast with white, (which shows up in all of my work). I love the idea of white represented as one of the main colours in a composition.

CH: Where does your inspiration for a painting stem from?

PR: Minimalism inspires me, aesthetically but also functionally. Aesthetically, minimalist Architecture, fashion, and graphic design are inspiring to me.

I studied historic costume design at Dalhousie University, then went on to study and work in fashion design. Cloth was the first medium I truly learned to appreciate. Using just a roll of white fabric, you can pleat, fold, drape, and turn it into a really complex piece. Essentially, you’re turning your canvas into pieces of art. It really developed my appreciation for how complex simple things can be. This is a perspective I’ve learned to seek inspiration with.

For example, my White Noise series was created because I was learning to appreciate white noise while meditating. You know? The stuff that used to play on old TVs when rabbit ear antennas didn’t work? Well, it’s random noise for some reason that relaxes people. When you dig into why it’s because it has something called flat spectral density. Which means it has equal intensity at different frequencies. It’s a random series of noise that we interpret as a singular and familiar experience.

I tried to apply the same types of layered complexity with paint. Using a series of seemingly random lines and textures, I built up something aesthetically pleasing in shape. Each time I looked at it, I wanted to feel I could see something different, that even I didn’t intend. Yet, at the same time, I needed to look at it and get a calm feeling every time. It sounds a little out there, but after slowing down and focusing on how complex simple things can be, it starts to make sense.

 

“Morning With Nowhere To Be”, 36×24 inches, acrylic on canvas

CH: What has been the most enjoyable part of your art career so far?

PR: The most enjoyable part of my art career has been experiencing prolonged flow states. I’ve been a creative in other industries my whole life, and the flow state is common across all of them, but I’ve never experienced it for periods as long as when I’m painting. Sometimes they last weeks, but a few days is more common. Finding those creative grooves where it feels like you have the answer to the question before you know the question, is a bit like magic.

“Melt Into You”, 30×40 inches, acrylic on canvas

CH: What does the term “art” mean to you? How does it identify with your practice?

PR: Art is the expression and communication of a concept or feeling. There’s art or design at least, in everything, however fine art for the sake of pure enjoyment is special in that it has the power to instantly change your mood. I think more than ever our society is very noisy, there’s a lot of issues that require us to care and act. Art has the ability to inspire those actions, but also to turn that volume down, to help people refocus internally. I think focus is necessary for well being, something that can easily shift how you feel, is a really powerful tool people have at their disposal to make their home a sanctuary.

For me, the connection I have to my work is often specific to the date or memory from when the work was created. I can look at a piece and know what was happening when I created it, it’s a bit like storing a memory.

“Serious Contemplation”, 60×48 inches, acrylic on canvas

CH: What do you do in your leisure time when you aren’t painting?

PR: I do yoga, I read (mostly nonfiction, about health or environmental impact). I’m very interested in how our choices and lifestyles are breaking down our health and environment rapidly. I’ve been teaching myself how to cook (I’m not great in the kitchen but the pandemic has forced me to work a bit on that), and even grow some of my own food. I spend a lot of time with my senior cat, who will be 21 this September, he’s my little shadow and muse. Oh, and I’m still working on that whole meditation thing!