Krista Townsend

Krista Townsend

I paint what is around me. Where I live, where I visit. My work usually explores the natural world and my relationship to it though I am also intrigued by the human form and things we create. Most of my paintings are inspired by daily hikes in the woods or walks through my neighborhood. I paint the light that makes a shadow of a tree on the side of a house, color of leaves and flowers, and the shapes and patterns of nature, human-made structures, as well as the human form.

Creating a work is more consuming than the time I spend with the paintbrush, outside or in my studio. I don’t separate the formation of an idea, the information gathering, or the questioning of intension from the act of applying color to canvas. The creative process, as continuous and necessary to me as breathing, is always occurring, even as I have to step back and wait for answers to emerge. Because of the continuity of the process through my daily life, there is a lot of self-discovery in my work, an inner dialog of questioning and allowing. I often spend a lot of time in the places that I paint, but I find that it’s actually in the act of painting that I really get to know my subjects. Painting helps open me up to this discovery, and information I subconsciously absorbed while in a place manifests in my work. But I always question why something appeared, what made it important enough to me that it has a home on my canvas. The collection of ideas, images and memories is very contemplative for me. I think about my place in this world and our human connection to and dependence on nature. When I get into the studio in front of the canvas, however, I have to let that go. I don’t expect to consciously figure out the answers in any one painting, maybe not even in a lifetime’s work. So, focusing instead on what’s happening in the moment on the surface of the canvas and allowing the work to lead me, reveals new ways of expressing myself.

The physicality of the whole process, from finding the inspiration to executing the painting, is an integral part of creating. I am not one to sit still for long and that restlessness affords many opportunities to find interesting subject matter. I am also apt to frequent the places that interest me and absorb them in a repetitive manner. Then, bringing observations and ideas back to the canvas, I revel in the movement of gesture and brush stroke, stepping away for contemplation, and turning back to the palette then the canvas. I move back and forth between a series of marks to the composition they create. I enjoy playing with that line between abstraction and realism and letting the painting pull me in one direction or the other. With every painting I push my technique, try new things, and question what works or doesn’t. I always start with the idea and inspiration of the place, but at some point, what is happening on the canvas takes over. The painting may lean further toward the abstract and I welcome this when it happens, but I don’t force any work into abstraction. If that’s where it goes, though, I will follow. Eventually, I find my way to a resolved painting that expresses the awe that inspired me originally.

Throughout the process of creating a painting, from the immersion in nature to the final brush stroke on the canvas, paying close attention and continuing to question at every step is very important to me. It not only has the calming effect of focusing my mind in the moment, but it helps balance the rest of life’s speed and intensity. My hope is that what evolves on my canvases opens my viewer up to a new appreciation of nature and their relationship to it while offering a respite from the intensity of our modern world. 

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