Evolution of Process

I’m always very excited for upcoming exhibitions. Not only does it mean I’m gaining the opportunity to get my work out in the world, but I am also inclined to try a new direction, subject or a new style with my work.

Exhibitions are sometimes like a test market for future work.

I’ve been working with idea of memory degradation – if I study this thing now and paint it later what will it look like, what do I remember, and how to I treat areas on canvas where I’ve forgotten the form of the thing? While this idea hasn’t changed, I’m now approaching “transcribing” the form of my subject differently.

Until this spring, my process would be to study a subject – florals or botanicals, create a blank but textured background loosely representing the type of soil or ground that the botanical would exist in but also remark to an “empty mind” or a blank thought. On top of that I would paint what I can remember my subject looking like.

I’m approaching my process differently now.

I’m inspired by a great many things. Leaves vibrating in the wind, the composition of colors and form on my breakfast plate, the color of the light before a storm (yeah, all that dramatic artist stuff). Mostly what inspires me, though, is other paintings. When an artist I admire creates something new, it is profound in how I then approach my art making. What I have noticed is the use of negative space as a foreground in contemporary painting. There’s something unnerving about seeing something up front when life experience tells you that it should be behind another thing. And so that is how I’m approaching my subjects now.

Now I start with the subject. I paint all the portions of it that I can remember, and attempt to recreate portions that I vaguely remember. Then I use a background color to fill in the space around the subject, mask out areas of the form that I’m sure of and translucently paint over areas that I feel are incorrect. More so than ever, my paintings are reflective of how the mind works when trying to recall memories. If you really thought hard about what a closeup of an orchid looks like, you would see some areas in detail while others slip away into the fog of once known information.


New work displayed in August 2015 at 15th Street Galley in SLC will have this style on display and available for collectors.

> See Cannaceae
> See Iridaceae

I Don’t Understand Contemporary Art as a Horizontal Timeline



‘Contemporary Art’ (not to be lumped in with modern art) is a very difficult thing to understand if you are like me and not formally educated on the subject. I would, of course, consider myself an art lover and someone that appreciates art enough to try to follow movements, my favorite artists, and try sort out what kind of art is what.

The way I see it, contemporary art doesn’t exist on a horizontal time line that begins with cave drawings and is waiting to continue being written tomorrow. Rather, I see it as pebbles thrust into a pond. Each stone tossed represents an “ism” or a “post” this or a “neo” that, and the amount of force each stone creates effects how large and how long its ripples expand out ward. For example: some art movements after World War II have created such waves that the surge still expands into our time and collides with today’s new ideas and technology causing a dither in the water and creating movements that are entirely new.

Modern art is easy to grasp, in the respect of movements. What has been judged as unimportant has already faded out of history and no longer dilutes what is decidedly influential. Contemporary art is no different than any other throughout time. Ideas and processes arise, some fade quickly, some consume others. To provide cohesiveness among the fervor, the term “contemporary art” is effectively the pond.

What is so exciting about today’s art, I find, is the same thing that makes it frustrating: only time will tell what ripples will resonate into history, and what magnitude of ripple I am apart of.


Reference and list of movements by decade >

Sinking into the Fog


These are all subjects I try to address in my figurative work. It is the contradiction of an introspective state of churning and physical state of suspension. It is you and I slipping between awareness and thought.

Introspection is associated with specific neural activity that differs from outer perception.  At the onset of introspection, you feel your mind sinking and your eyes seem to fog over as the tiny lights of brain activity move from the front to the back of your brain. You won’t remember exiting the freeway and turning left at the light, but you did. It is a phenomenon that most will agree is unique to humans and is a spiritual or emotional talent.

It is also something not easily captured in a figurative painting, but I’m going to keep trying.

Figurative Work >

The Psychology of Memory, As I Remember It.

I have always been interested in psychology and fascinated with how a lump of curly tissue in our skulls can essentially make up our entire emotional and cognitive being. We as humans are outwardly associating with the world and others around us while internally reviewing information we gather, remembering tasks to complete and repeating songs simultaneously. Evoking what psychologist Edward Thorndike termed “decay theory” I have been using myself as a subject in experiments with memory through my abstract art.

What is Decay Theory?
Put simply, decay theory proposes that memory fades with time. Easy enough. But there is more to it: when we obtain new information it is lightly placed upon our minds as a neurochemical ‘memory trace.’ If the new information is rehearsed than it becomes a more solid memory and therefore more available for retrieval, if it is not rehearsed then it fades and is eventually forgotten. Alphanumeric series 17-36A. There is one inconsistency among researchers. They disagree whether memories fade with time, decay theory, or because we are constantly absorbing new information that interrupts our process of remembering; ‘interference theory.’

Without looking, can you recall the alphanumeric series I snuck into the text?
That’s interference theory.

How Does This Relate to My Artwork?
I study the physiology of a flower, often over the course of a week and than I put away all the information. A couple days later, I attempt to capture a likeness of the botanical in my studio. Because I work with the intention of allowing decay and interference to effect the painting, no outcome is incorrect. It really becomes the marriage of neuro-science and botany (with artistic liberties)… but more on that another time.

See my abstract work at www.sarinavillareal.com/abstract/