5 Things to Know About My Current Painting Series

I am currently working on a new body of work, a series of black and white paintings. In this post, I’ll be telling you a bit about the series and my inspiration behind it. I’m breaking it down into five bits of information so as to not drone on and on, which is something that us artists tend to do, present company included!

#1: My title is inspired by an old-fashioned phrase, but it reflects my current state of being

I have chosen to title my current series Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder. This is for several reasons, primarily the concept of absence and home. If you have been reading along with my journey, you will know that I just left what I once thought would be my “dream job” in Europe to pursue my passion of being an artist. This life-changing decision is the reason I have recently moved to Canada, to the quaint town of Fredericton, New Brunswick.

A moment of contemplation.

A moment of contemplation.

It is an odd feeling for me to be in a place so familiar, and yet that is not my home. I say it’s familiar because the culture here is so similar to the culture where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. People here are kind, they go out of their way to be friendly, there is a historic feel to the town, and there are trees everywhere. And the fact that (almost) everyone speaks English is a HUGE bonus for someone who’s lived with an extreme language barrier for the past seven years. These days, the thought of a language barrier makes me break out into a nervous sweat after so many awkward experiences as an expat!

My official home is on the other side of the continent, in Oregon. And yet, I don’t really have a connection to that place anymore because my family moved away, and I’ve been overseas for so long. I can’t even remember the last time I was in my hometown. So where is my home? I’m trying to create a new home in this lovely new place I’ve found myself in. It’s a bittersweet feeling, being at once familiar with a place and also an outsider. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad feeling, just a little surreal.

Another reason for my choice in title is the absence of color. It’s something I chose to do intentionally to push myself out of my colorful comfort zone. My paintings have always been full of color, which is an element that I love to play with. I didn’t want to get too comfortable in that, so I set a challenge for myself. I decided to create a new series that is completely in black and white. The absence of color. Or should I say colour? Now that I’m in Canada, spelling certain words can be tricky! I think the subdued color scheme reflects this bittersweet experience quite well, not because it’s sad, but because it’s simultaneously unfamiliar and yet familiar to me.

# 2: I’m still not done with the floating motif

Although I’m challenging myself by using a limited color palette, I’m not ready to give up my favorite compositional motif: the abstract cloud. As I wrote about in a recent Instagram post, I am deeply inspired by the numerous experiences I’ve had flying above the clouds on international flights. The view from above the clouds is one of the most beautiful (if not THE most beautiful) thing I have ever had the privilege to see. The endless sky full of fluffy textures and dazzling blue, or sometimes a blazing sunrise or sunset, is always so inspiring to my artist’s eye.

Absence Diptych

Absence Diptych

If you haven’t noticed yet, I can tell you that a lot of my paintings have some sort of floating cloud shapes that appear to fade away or go back into space. It is abstract, meaning I’m not literally portraying the view of clouds that I find so inspiring. However, I am trying to capture the essence of the feeling. The feeling of elation and wonder that I have experienced so many times when looking out the airplane window. It is the emotion that I hope to communicate to the viewer.

# 3: I’m “breaking in” my new studio

I’ve recently set up my new studio, and I’m in heaven! I have a large desk for a workspace, and a storage area for my canvases. I have a cube shelf to organize all of my materials. I have not one, but TWO Ikea Alex drawer units that I absolutely love for storing many of my flat materials (pens, pencils, tools, paper). And my favorite part, a pretty area rug to make the space more cozy (shout out to my brother and sister-in-law for the gift!). It’s a studio that I’ve been dreaming about.

Even though I have a space for everything, I still seem to gravitate towards sitting on the floor to do my work. I have more space to spread out my materials (compared to the desk), and my paintings actually need to be flat so the ink and watercolors can work their magic.

It’s my favorite place to be: working in the studio, with a candle spreading a warm fragrance and a podcast playing to keep me company. And this series is my first in this wonderful new space.

# 4: It’s still in-progress

This series is nowhere near finished. I’ve completed 13 small and medium sized paintings, but I still feel there is more to do. As an artist, I can totally envision the not-yet-created paintings in my head. I know what I want them to look like. I don’t know when I will have the feeling of finality, but I know it’s not here yet. There’s more work to do, and I’m so happy that I get to do it!

# 5: Online shop is happening in the background

Most of my non-painting time is spent preparing my online shop to launch. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes action that goes into it, and I’m a bit wiser this time around. My shop was open very briefly about a year ago, but ran into too many snags and closed it soon after opening. One of the challenges was I was still working full time in education, and the launch was during the busiest time of year for a teacher. Not the smartest choice! Thankfully, I am now working for myself full time and am able to devote more time to this major goal of mine. I’ve optimized the experience so my customers and myself can have an easier and more pleasant experience. One new aspect that I am excited about is the automated printing process. I have partnered with a company in Austin, Texas (Skyline Art Printing) that specialized in fine art printing. Working with Skyline should make the process smooth.

There are a few final things to do, but it’s almost ready to go live. My top paintings were selected, shop was designed, details were added, and now I’m so excited to launch the shop! It should be online the first week of November. And here’s a tip: new customers (which is everyone at this point) get a special discount! I’ll be sending out more information on that soon.

Katrina Slade online shop preview

Have questions or comments about my series, my studio practice, or anything else? Or perhaps you are interested in purchasing a piece you see? Feel free to contact me at hello@katrinaslade.com