· By Grace Snively
The Tan Couch
My work is a reflection of the complexity and compositional challenges of establishing a timeline for our expectations.
But how did I get here? I’ve picked up the paintbrush again, I’m teaching classes, and I’m showing in galleries. But how, how have I found my place as an artist again?
Here's the answer — a timeline of expectations that did NOT play out the way I anticipated, and a couch.
My artist story isn’t overly complicated. I was given awards all through school, I was taken to special art workshops, and I had an art teacher encouraging me to apply to colleges and pursue art. I choose art, I always choose art. I’m still choosing art.
After I graduated from college with a Fine Arts Degree I struggled to find time and motivation to get into my studio to draw and paint! My experience in an art department was one of the greatest chapters in my life! I would start my mornings in the studio and drink coffee all day long. I would take a break for lunch, head to my other classes, or walk across campus with my friend Erica and grab a bagel, but I always found myself back in that studio putting paint on the canvas! We had a couch in our studio, this couch was a special couch.
This couch, THIS couch was disgusting and housed more paint, dirt, and things I do not even want to imagine. But, I ate meals on this couch, and drank my coffee on this couch. I’m sure I talked about Adam on this couch as well as made him sit on this couch. I read dissertations, articles, and thought provoking material on the couch. I might have had wine a time or two at 2am on this couch. I went to this couch when I needed to step away from what was emerging on the canvas. This couch was the space that allowed for life's complexity and compositional challenges to come out, but at any moment I could stand back up, take 3 steps over to my studio and move my brush across the canvas. The couch was the lifeline between thought and creation.
After graduating college I tried to draw and paint in my new home studio but something was missing. As an artist I allowed myself to step back. I attended art shows and visited galleries and kept up with major art publications, but I wanted a break from producing. I never felt bad about this. I had been “stamped” an art student as far back as I can remember and had worked really hard to hone in on my craft and be the best in college. I was ready for a break and I knew I would find my way back, because I always find my way back to art.
After years of putting my art on hold I stepped into motherhood, which requires a special couch of its own. Motherhood requires a couch just like that couch I had in my studio. A place to drink coffee, eat meals, read articles, drink wine, and step back to see what’s emerging before your eyes. A couch like this is a lifeline in motherhood. This couch, this invisible couch that gave me a space to watch my life’s painting unfold, is what prompted my next phase as an artist.
This phase, this moment in my life as an artist is richer and more fulfilling. For the first time since college I feel like I am producing work at a level beyond what I ever reached in school. My work feels intense, rich, truthful, and can evoke a wide range of emotions. My work is emerging just like it did when I had that stained tan couch to sit on.
When I stepped away from producing artwork 11 years ago I didn’t realize I was missing the couch so much. My couch today is my support group, podcasts, interesting publications, book clubs, teaching art, yoga, running a business and finding time to step back to view the painting of life that is emerging before me. My couch is experiencing a timeline of expectations that did NOT play out the way I anticipated, and I'm finding a way to represent the beautiful chaos of life on canvas.
I had a couch, stepped away from the couch and designed my new couch.
Grace Snively’s most recent Artist Statement
My work is a reflection of the complexity and compositional challenges of establishing a timeline for our expectations. The expectations we place on ourselves, within the boundary of a timeline, is often rigid, narrow and unachievable. We navigate our timelines with the goals of creating a compositional layout that reflects boundaries, forms and structural flow. Reality often breaks our desired or hopeful viewing of life itself and blurs the rigid forms we’ve worked so hard to create. While experiencing my work the viewer can search for forms, structure or a composition that embodies a wholeness but will be pulled away by the blurred forms, interrupted lines and push and pull of foreground and background.
My work is produced through a fast moving, intuitive process that requires the build up of forms and structures to only be deconstructed with lines, blurred edges and a layering color sequence that places a burden on the viewer to attempt distinguishing foreground and background. My work requires a lengthy process of quickly laying color and forms down and slowly meditating on linework and structural push and pull to disrupt the composition.
My work gives the viewer permission to assemble and disassemble the structural boundaries of our everyday movements through life. Viewers can lock into a form that is established and bring it forward or backward as we do in life when we choose the parts of us that deserve prominence. Viewers can place their gaze on a form that is blurred and meditate on the significance behind the lack of permanence in any type of structural form. Viewers can also follow the mark making or lines placed through the composition to show the disruptions and chaos of life. Viewers have the opportunity to experience my work in direct correlation to the desired timeline they are creating for themselves at the moment. The viewer has the full ability to connect with the structure, blurred forms or lines throughout and allow themselves to embrace the parts of the piece they connect with the most inorder to truly see that all 3 are necessary.
I hope my artwork allows the viewer to find integrity in their desired placement of form, structure and line.