The critical aspect of my painting which has remained constant over twenty years, is color. I see vibrant colors, in particular, as a refuge. Such colors provide their own strength and visual determination which, in turn, affords me a haven as I paint. Beyond using luscious colors, I have no single way of working. Sometimes, for example, I create my oil paintings from gouaches or oil pastels I have made, things and patterns I see, or phrases which I hear. Other times, my paintings have grown out of images from old Chinese or Japanese art, recreating them in fresh, modern contexts. Or I may find a photograph that grabs my imagination or a drawing that I have rubbed out in order to "ghost" it. Regardless of what inspires me when I begin a painting, I remain receptive to the multitude of organic surprises and "mistakes" which push me into new emotional and painterly territory. My paintings may be realistic, representational abstractions or pure abstractions. In my most recent work (shown on this website) for example, I depict the interaction of different aspects of nature with some forms that are recognizable and others that are abstract. Frequently, though, recognizable forms may have an abstract quality because of the surprising colors I use to interpret them. Similarly, an abstract form may seem representational depending on its context. A wavy mark, for instance may feel bird-like due to where it's located in a painting. "Earlier Work" (also shown on this website), paintings I did for an exhibit called "Listening in Color," are pure abstractions. I painted those emotions I felt from phrases my father had said to me in childhood, which I began to "hear" only in my studio. Every part of those paintings was purely imagined with no reference to anything tangible and without using his words, per se. My goal was to recreate the energy and optimism I felt from "listening" to and remembering his words.
In addition, I use myriad textures of paint, applying them to the canvas, then rubbing them down to create translucent areas or building them up to make dense, opaque sections. Often I give free reign to applying thick, slabs of paint, underscoring that paint applied this way, is itself, a form which creates a startling point of interest in both the painting and to the viewer.
My tools are also varied: brushes, palette knives, sticks, sponges, rags, the 8" sides of strong cardboard pieces, loaded with paint, which I jab against my canvas. I use any tools that enable me to evoke the emotions I feel. My canvases often take years, months or very rarely, a long day. Most frequently, I work on my canvases for months, put them away and take them out again and again, in order to go back inside them. It is this repeated reworking that gives them the history I want them to express.
Copyright 2010 Joelle Sander designed by nadia block