Paintings, to some extent, have a mind of their own. It is my job to recognize this, to leave areas that show potential and contribute to the whole. I try to take advantage of accidents. Every inch of the picture plane is important. I like distorted grids and drops. I experiment with intense areas of colour and form and how they work with space. I try to create tension between the interior body of the picture plane and the edges.
I enjoy slapping gobs of paint mixed with cold wax giving the paint a matt look. I use a palette knife. In some ways, I work as a plasterer spreading and covering up what I don’t want the viewer to see. This process, which I find much more interesting than the end product, excites me. I scrape, drip, remove and reapply the waxy hues. I try to work quickly at first and spend some time refining edges and editing. I embrace mistakes. I try to give them a chance to participate in the work. I often find my paintings have a life of their own and they seem to lead me rather than the other way around. While painting, I feel angst, frustration, exhilaration and then I relax. I love the beginning - a blank canvas. The process challenges me.
My work often involves a dialogue or relationship between areas of intensity or excitement on the canvas. They are separated by large areas of space. Space is important. It’s what I call breathing room... a “nothingness” except for marks made by my knives. Space helps define the forms. The use of colour is as important as form. I am working on a series of canvases where long linear forms of paint meld into similar hues and stretch across large simple areas or plains. I paint the background and linear forms at almost the same time. I like creating areas of intensity vs. quiet larger spaces.
The forms the viewer sees are found everywhere…in horizontal clouds stretching across the sky, in the bark of an old tree, in natural material, in sloping partially-dry sidewalks where puddles have left their mark, in ripples in ponds, broken rocks, aerial views of snowy landscapes or islands...
I have moved to a small island near Kingston. It’s barren in winter. I have been inspired by January’s soft grey, white and black forms, cracking ice flows on St. Lawrence, hardpacked snow on paths, the stillness... areas of intensity beside space. Perhaps the viewer will find something familiar, but undefined about my art.
Caroline Marshall received her Studio Arts degree from Sheridan College in 2000. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Art History from the University of Toronto. During her studies, Caroline won a number of student awards. Caroline lives and works on Howe island outside of Kingston, Ontario.