Patricia Finley is featured in the exhibition Fresh Paint,
currently on view through April 13th.
Join us as we interview the artist, discussing her inspiration and creative process!
What sparked your interest in art? Did you grow up in a creative environment?
I'm an Iowa farm kid born and raised. I didn't grow up going to museums or art exhibits and did not have a particularly artistic childhood. Instead, I moved to Arizona and decided to become a lawyer, specifically a trial attorney in Phoenix. At that time, my then-husband and I collected art, primarily Western art such as the work of Alan Houser, Ed Mell and Bill Owens. However, I always loved and was drawn to abstract art. Through a serendipitous (and lengthy) set of circumstances, I moved to Denver, where I had and continue to have the good fortune to live next door to a retired but highly successful artist who became my first mentor. Eventually, she pushed me to show and sell my art. My response was, “I'm not that good.” Her riposte: “Yes, you are. Get out there.” At my first art fair, I sold 13 pieces. It turns out that she was right. The answer to the question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” was “create art.”
What aspect of your life do you find the most inspiration?
Like most artists, I'm inspired by the natural world. I also come up with new ideas by seeing other artists' work. The work of others is inspiring to me, but in a very different way than nature. When I fall in love with someone else's art, I know I could never copy it (and I wouldn't want to) because resin is such a challenging medium. I simply use art I admire as a jumping off point to think about what resin can and will do in the creative process.
I love to attend art openings, art museums and art exhibits wherever I go. For example, I was just in Peru and happened upon an art exhibit by a well-known Peruvian artist, which was quite striking. I also toured the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Lima which was hosting a fabulous and intriguing exhibit.
Let’s talk about your process. How do you achieve the rich, glossy hues that dominate your work?
I create a bit differently than most other artists who use resin. I add paint or ink to the resin and paint with the resulting colored resin. Consequently, the resin is not on top of the painting; instead, it is the painting. Painting with colored resin is rather like painting with syrup. Resin is a thick medium which moves and flows somewhat on its own volition on the wood panels that I use. The panels must be level or the resin drips off of the sides. The glossy effect that I achieve is a consequence of the resin itself; it is why I love it. The rich, deep colors and contemporary aspect are all due to this fabulous medium with only a little bit of help from me.
Tell us about a moment that you feel was a turning point for you as an artist.
When I started out, I was working with paper creating collages, most with graphic lines and shapes. I happened to walk into a gallery in Aspen that was showing the work of an artist who had put resin over his paper collage. I tried that and loved the result. Then I thought, “I wonder what would happen if I put colored pigment into the resin and painted with that.” The first piece sold me on resin forever because the result was so bright and vibrant.
Describe a typical day in the studio for you. What do you do to get your creative juices flowing?
My typical day in the studio begins early, for I am an early riser and I love the quiet of mornings. To get my creative juices going, I first journal and meditate. I focus my meditation on art if I am not sure how some idea that I have will work in resin. I make sure that I have a panel ready to go; that is, gessoed and level on my table or on the floor if it is a large piece.
I then turn on music, generally 80's rock or jazz or classical music, although I must confess that once I get going on a piece, I no longer hear the music. Then I decide what it is that I am trying to create. What is the design? What is new and fresh? What have I never seen before? What is a good color or colors to use with that idea? Will that concept work with the size of the panel that I have ready to go? If I'm working on a commission, I ask myself, what colors does the client want and how do I translate the design of the original “inspiration piece” to this size and shape? Then, I measure resin and hardener and mix them, usually with a hand mixer. I add color to some or all of the resin and pour it onto the panel and begin working it, often mixing batch after batch of resin in order to achieve the result I want.
Who is your favorite artist form history and why?
Helen Frankenthaler is my favorite artist from history. She was an innovator in that she was the first to thin paint and create color field paintings. My work has been described as color field painting, which is hugely complimentary given the history of the style, the amazing artists that painted color field art and the fact that it celebrates the joys of pure color. I, too, celebrate the joys of pure color.