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

Street Art


Last year I was invited by the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art to participate in the downtown new year’s eve event “Secret Eve.” It’s an event where 13 artists create some-what hidden street art and new year revelers hunt to find each one. It was my first street art project and I knew exactly how I wanted to create a public piece.

When I paint, my palette that I work from becomes a blend of color and each palette chromatically represents a painting I’ve completed. I tend to use and re-use one paper palette for each acrylic piece whether it is 48″x62″ or a 12″x12″. I have never considered the mixing surface as an art piece it’s self, but found something beautiful in each one. The paint is thin and transparent in some areas, while other parts are thick with layers of flesh tone fading from a warm beige to a blush. My abstract palettes are vibrant with each bright color complementing another.

So I used it.

Peeling paint from a palette is tricky, edges tear and stretch. Portions uncontrollably rip and can be replaced in combinations different than they were originally formed. As a result, the acrylic created something representing a cluster of continents floating upon the surface which it was applied.


This particular palette comes from Yellow Hibiscus on Blue.

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 >

Dividing Work

It has been an incredibly busy last couple months.
With two shows brewing for this September I have been working tirelessly to create new work for Sugarhouse Gallery and the Utah Arts Festival Gallery. Once I took a step back and looked at all the new work as a whole I have finally made decisions about what pieces will go where.


Sugarhouse Gallery

This is a very large space with beautiful filtered natural light. The large walls lend themselves perfectly to a figurative show. For Sugarhouse Gallery I will have portraits that have never been shown, one or two most popular pieces that have yet to find a home and two 36”x66” canvases with figures completed in the last few weeks using my new painting style I’ve been experimenting with. Two of the portraits have been featured in Linus Gallery, Pasadena CA. I will also be incorporating a few of the smaller abstract florals.

Opening  September 13th from 6-9 pm, second reception October 11th from 6-9 pm.

Show runs September 13 – October 31
Sugarhouse Gallery, inside Artistic Framing Co. | 2160 South Highland Drive (Across from Whole Foods)


Utah Arts Festival Gallery

This is a super urban space inside of Art Space, City Center. Because of its downtown location, heavy Gallery Stroll traffic and the fact that I will have a solo show parallel to another group show, I want to hang work that has been featured in the Studio Visit Magazine and International Contemporary Artists biennial hardcover book as well as new work. This show, “Decay Theory” will display the botanical inspired abstract paintings that invoked the psychological theory of temporal decline.

Decay Theory
Opening September 20th from 6-9 pm Show runs September 20th – October 11th

Utah Arts Festival Gallery, inside Art Space City Center | 230 S 500 W #120


All the work will be available for purchase.

Sarina Villareal: Decay Theory – 20th September at the Utah Arts Festival Gallery

Utah Arts Festival Gallery
in Artspace City Center, 230 South 500 West, Suite 120

Artist Receptions: Friday, Sept. 20th
On view: Sept. 20 – Oct. 11 2013 | Mon – Fri


Salt Lake City, UT – Kicking off the new year of UAF shows, Sarina Villareal will present large abstract works depicting florals that invoke Edward Thorndike’s theory of temporal decline in a show titled Decay Theory.

Sarina Villareal explores the outcome of memory degradation in her most recent body of abstract paintings she calls the Garden series. Villareal begins her process by studying the physiology of a botanical in order to create a neuro-chemical “memory trace” of the plant. Some time later, Villareal paints a ‘portrait’ of the floral working from solely from that memory. Due to what psychologist Edward Thorndike calls “Decay Theory,” recollection of finer aspects begin to diminish almost immediately. Villareal’s canvases capture this theory with foggy environments both engulfs and reveals details of the floral.

“The Decay Theory states that when new information is learned, a neuro-chemical ‘memory-trace’ is created on the mind. If the information is not rehearsed, it becomes harder for neuro pathways to retrieve the information,” explains Villareal. “I chose to paint florals because of their physical complexity. Botany is an extensive subject that will give me a great number of avenues for new learning … and plenty of opportunity to forget.”

In September, UAF Gallery will also present the work of Taylor Livingston, Teri Bylund, Joseph Casalino Jr. and James Rees in a parallel show titled Visionary and Expressive Contemporary Art.


About the artist

Sarina Villareal holds an AS in graphic design and BFA in painting from the University of Houston. Since leaving an award-winning career in advertising and relocating to Salt Lake City in 2008, she has been a participating artist in many art festivals including the Kimball Park City Arts Festival and has been selected to be a part of several group and a solo gallery shows in Utah and California. Recent publications include ‘Studio Visit’ magazine and ‘International Contemporary Artists.’ Villareal is represented by 15th Street Gallery in Salt Lake City, UT. To see her work visit: www.sarinavillareal.com