August 16, 2017

Discover the Process of Painting With 'Spotlight 2017'

Art Notes

Christina Foard

Currently on view at the Gallery@Hotel Indigo, “Spotlight 2017” offers a focused glimpse into bodies of work by three artists. The second installment of the exhibition series features paintings by Erin McIntosh, Paul Collins and Christina Foard, each of whom has a creative practice driven by a very distinctive process.

McIntosh’s colorful paintings combine geometric structures and organic forms through a largely improvisational process guided by intuition. As she builds each painting layer by layer, she emphasizes harmonious color combinations and fluid lines to create biomorphic forms. Often keeping reference images of previous paintings in her peripheral vision while working, her art resembles imaginative close-up views of microscopic worlds. 

“I am fascinated by microscopic imagery and have had this interest since childhood. These images are beautiful, and there is always a sense of mystery with what exactly is being seen,” says McIntosh. “I experience a disconnect between what things look like at a microscopic scale and what can be seen with only our eyes unaided by a magnifying device. It is amazing to think that we are all made of the same material and underlying structures. This imagery informs my work; however, I am most likely to pull from memory or imaginatively respond to scientific imagery and concepts.”

McIntosh received both a BFA and MFA from UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, and is currently an assistant professor at the University of North Georgia. In the past, she’s also taught for UGA’s study abroad program in Cortona, Italy, as well as for public art programs in Atlanta and various painting workshops. She finds that her studio practice and teaching career frequently build on each other.

“When I am painting, I often find myself asking, ‘How can I incorporate this into my class?’ or realizing, ‘This is something I need to bring up in class this week,’” says McIntosh. “I always get ideas for working with students from firsthand accounts in the studio doing my own creative work. Conversely, teaching and attempting to verbalize different aspects of creating makes me more aware of what is happening in my own studio practice. There are many ‘aha’ moments. Each informs the other.”

Nashville-based artist and educator Collins takes a diary-like approach to drawing, painting and sculpting his way through life. Daily experiences, occasionally reinterpreted through dreams or daydreams, serve as a launching pad for artwork that offers humorous and poignant observations examining the world around him.

“I draw a lot. I always have a few sketchbooks going, and things start there,” says Collins. “I work from images that I see out the window or that stick in my head from the day at work. Some get redrawn and redrawn again, while others don't. It's important to get that image flow going, so then I can float above and see without too much worry which images come to the top.”

One of his large watercolor-and-ink illustrations on paper, “Carved Bear Mailbox,” depicts a tree trunk whittled into a decorative post that he spotted during a trip to Niagara Falls. For the artist, the image embodies elements of things he both loves and loathes; his personal admiration for trees is demonstrated as a recurring theme throughout his work, yet society’s disregard for their well-being often saddens him. Still, he prefers to keep a positive outlook throughout his narratives.

“Humor is an important creator of light and space and surprise,” says Collins. “It's the great leavener. Without it, you've got one dry, hard cracker.”

After receiving a BFA from the University of Cincinnati in 1991, Foard opted to pursue a career in corporate communications for over a decade before finally returning to the art world as an arts administrator for the Cummer Museum in Jacksonville, FL and later the University of Florida Health Medical Center, where she designed healing arts projects. Still fairly new to Athens, she plans to begin working towards her MFA at Lamar Dodd this fall. 

“I am a process painter who bumps into content. I make continual adjustments and experiments with brushmarks,” says Foard. “I don’t know where I’m heading when I start. Sometimes landscape paintings become figurative, and still-life paintings become underwater abstractions. I get lost for a while throughout each painting, then a form emerges and I go into a direction, often referring to memories.”

Foard’s abstract paintings experiment with highly physical additive and subtractive methodologies that involve drawing, spraying, pouring, sanding, scraping and carving at various stages and drying times. The freedom to continue manipulating the canvas’ surface without a controlled outcome in mind allows for the freedom to channel emotions. Drawing influences from memories, anxieties and past communications, she invents imagined, abstracted worlds. Colorful combinations of paint with a strong sense of motion draw the eye in, then reveal hidden landscapes and still lifes. 

An opening reception for “Spotlight 2017” will be held Thursday, Aug. 17 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. The exhibition will remain on view through September.