Dear Painting,

When I think about what you mean to me, I think about the relationships I’ve had, the connections I’ve made, the collections of memories you accumulate, the late nights hours, the sifting of thoughts. I think about my interaction with you, and how you’ve absorbed my experiences and feelings. You’ve accepted my choices and my mistakes, unconditionally. You’ve been there through thick and thin, and allowed me to escape. Escape from the discomfort of the world around me, from the people around me I couldn’t shake, from emotions I wasn’t ready to feel or that I couldn’t comprehend. You became a sort of diary where words weren’t necessary. The medium, the simplicity of water and acrylic paint on canvas comforted me. Each canvas was a clean slate welcoming me all over again. I felt at ease and open confronted by your raw, vulnerable surface. I guess I always saw you as a reflection of myself. The process was reflective of what I was feeling and how what I’ve gone through changed the canvas. 

I love feeling immersed in your pools of colors. Barefoot and exposed to the organic, flowing movement. It’s as if I play with you. I pour, you react, I respond, you push back. We do it all over again. It’s hard to step back, but you force me to take the time, to understand what I’m doing, and to look at things in a new light. You mash together what I find important with the spectrum of the unknown. You reveal to me that I am constantly learning and adapting. You inform me how my surroundings change you in the small ways it changes me. Slowly and steadily. It’s as if you know me better than I know myself. You challenge me when I need it most and even when I least desire it. I may try to build systems and keep elements to hold on to the familiar, but you and I are evolving, so it’s necessary to widen the work creatively, emotionally, and physically.

It’s been push and pull. Love and hate. Fear and strength. Peace and struggle. I still don’t know what you mean to me, but that’s a start. 

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

I remember working in his garage. Nudging myself to work longer until he arrived, or continuing to paint alongside the hustle and bustle of them all because of a focus I couldn’t shake. Some days I think about it, and that space where we merged was mine just as much as it was his. It felt so odd, but right, to create somewhere that he had grown up. Somewhere you know that so much shit has gone down, or endless hours of smoking and irrelevant conversations have taken place. But when I was in there, it was different. The sun shown down hot on me and you, and you dried quickly, changing every hour of every day. Dust and ash fell onto you over time like a light snowfall. A dog jumped on you, luckily leaving no mark. You lay and you stood. More eyes fell upon you then usual with questions of what and why. Most striking though was how I felt comfortable and safe in a way I hadn’t before. There was finally a moment where I felt sound with you and my environment despite how out of my comfort zone all the elements were. I knew a time such as this would come, but little did I know how much it would weigh on my heart when it all disappeared.

Now that place is gone as is that moment. What was once familiar is unfamiliar and uneasy to me. What I felt known is now unknown, and even worse confused or mistaken. So now it’s time to move on, push forward, if I can find it in me. I can count on you. When energies are low, you raise them. When I feel lost, you lend a hand in grounding me. Where do we go from here? Moving, moving, moving. We find ourselves in a place of unrest once again. What will this experience yield? Why must it repeat? So far it is unparalleled, but the universe must have more in store for us. Show me your draping pools and vibrant colors making way, and I will reciprocate.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

I'm heartbroken. I don't know what I feel anymore, or maybe I do and I'm too scared to admit it. It seems my fears are growing. The sadness and pain have not passed and I find myself lost and distracted. I find myself pulled away under the surface. To others I may seem together, even chipper, but not to you. You know the truth and you help me get through it. You don't scold me for feeling or taking longer to heal. You are just present, conversing with me like you always do.

I am heartbroken and I don't know how to let him go. Help me be honest with myself. Collect these memories, this love, and these lessons. Or just let me be until time diminishes bit by bit the deepest love I've felt, until nothing but a small chard is left much like that of a small smudge in the negative space of an intricate charcoal drawing.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

I often wonder about time. Surrounded by buckets of water and acrylic paint, by different sizes of jars, by various mixtures of color light and dark, I see you absorb what I pour on you in one manner or another. As the days pass, you become one with the fabric. You shrink, at times leaving behind small rings and evidence of time. Sometimes I interact with you everyday, but other times I let you be. I like to see what the course of time allows you to do. 

Thinking of the time spent conversing with you, I think about my time spent reflecting on you. Before, during, and after, my mind skips from one thing to the next like a rock skipping across a lake. How do these different stages of reflection effect our interaction? I open my heart, and listen when I’m with you, but each environment has its implications, its outside forces pushing against me for better or for worse. So recently I’ve been considering whether I look too much inward; perhaps its time to for me to peer outwards and forward to see what my place in the contemporary art world is and understand how to engage in that space. 

Listening is so important, however the action is mine, and the time is ours. Six years it’s been since we came to know one another; six years since I broke through and escaped the chaos of a changing environment. You gave me firm ground to stand on and its time I return the favor. Support me in my search for your stake in the conversation of Abstract Expressionism and our story in the contemporary art world. I don’t have the answer, so let this next few months enlighten us and propel us to new beginnings. 

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

I despise having to defend myself to others. I'm awful at making arguments; I need time to build my case and to truly understand what it is I want to say and why it has value.

I am aware of my surroundings, the history of other painters, as well as my own, and our common language. However, I'm still building my case. I am still gathering evidence to demonstrate to others why I paint you and why I am so obsessive of the organic, cool tones, water, absorption, atmosphere, and earth that surface from our conversations. I am one to make first and think later, but at this point in time, I am being asked and pressured to find answers to where I fit in and how. How? 

That is a question I've been searching for some time. As I look out the window of this airplane, I see deep blue waters, clusters of land with rolling hills, clouds like cotton candy. I see streaks and triangles of light reflect off my screen and into the gray tray eating in front of me. I see form, radiance, line, translucence and opacity, and I think of you. I think about the feeling I get when I paint you. I hover above and at different angles and you look back up at me inviting me in.

Nothing compares to being in that moment of meditation -- you physically manifest all of my hopes, fears, and questions. I am fascinated with our process; my eyes are drawn to anything and everything that reminds me of you. I have a tendency to look inwards and forget the outside world, but they are more intertwined than I realize. I forget that this is the way I digest the world. This is how I experience my daily life by painting you. 

You are my anchor in time; you contextualize me. Each piece of you is a hint to the bigger picture, a synchronicity of events that add to the whirlwind that is my life. You give me perspective because you exist in several moments at once. Painting, you portray my past and present work, methods, and lessons simultaneously, while also being the stepping stone to future work.

That's where I belong, no specific place, but in this state of exploration and understanding with you.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

You frustrate me so much right now. I see you changing — the colors have brightened, the layering intensified, the textured built up — and yet, I feel stunted. Is it that I get tired of an action or material too easily? That I compare myself too much to others? That I am intimidated? That I am falling back into old habits? How can I feel so uninspired when I see those changes?

I find that I am looking to have more mobile pieces in my work, more flexible materials, more growth. Is it that I want more? Perhaps its less that I need.

I look at the ghost stains left on the back of your fabric and push it forward. I attempt ghost marks on the remaining piece of cast acrylic for the first time.

This time of pressure, and most from myself, for the expectations I have for you and I, has me twisted. I just want to make. I just want to liberate myself from expectations and create something of my own, that means something to the words I speak.

Painting, I need your response. I need your aid in stimulating new thoughts and converging them with old, with the love of being immersed in pools of paint, even the tiniest of pools.

Today feels like an experiment. My process with less absorption. Less.

I apologize for my scattered thoughts; I focus purely today on color, form, movement, breathing, and wait to see time pass and what emerges.

As always, guide me.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

Fuck. We’ve come a long way.

That last piece was a struggle, a real bitch. Converting a once floor into a free standing painting was… I don’t know what it was. I just remember going back and forth on what I wanted, what it meant, how it operated, how the viewer confronted the work, and I felt drained. The most powerful moment though was this moment of silence. After a boat of frustration, I was left alone with 8 panels of cement board, 8 panels that lived with me for a year, that collected your remains, that absorbed our experiences of my final year in this chapter called Grad School.

In that moment, it was just me and you. I stopped looking at you as Sculpture (who I viewed briefly as my nemesis). You were never sculpture to me. You were another version of yourself. Headphone in ears, I got down on the floor and pushed your pieces in different positions. Rotating, overlapping, angling, laying, moving, turning. It was similar to that moment of bliss and peace of me pouring paint onto you, into you, and just taking it all in. Albeit brief, that’s the moment that makes this all worth it. And that’s what I need to hold on to through this time of change, transition, and essential chaos.        

It’s time for a new chapter, new forms, new life. Stay with me. Remind me we can do this. That I can do this. That any small act — writing, reading, painting, drawing, just being involved in a practice of you moves us forward.

Don’t lose sight.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting, 

Where do we go from here? I feel disconnected somewhat. It’s one thing to be working with you seven days a week. A complete immersion in a studio where there’s no limitations, just a freedom to create, a pressure to challenge ourselves, to be critical of our choices, because each decision we make has a ripple in the work. It’s another thing entirely to enter the supposed “real world” and have all the focus shifted to paying the bills, finding a second or third career to support our dream of excelling as an artist. So, where do we go from here? How to we find our niche, our place to make in this city? I guess it wouldn’t be rewarding if it weren’t challenging, right?

But, as always, I have faith. I’ve decided to put my energy into adapting you to a new space. Thinking of the here and now, the circumstances we find ourselves in, and what it means to make in this new environment. Think of it as a different dialogue between us. We’ve explored the past, and it’s time to gage the present. We’ll just view it as a limitation we set for ourselves, even though it’s the world throwing yet another curveball at us. 

         We’ve got this. I refuse to be a stranger. 

Here’s to new facets to you, to new works, and to what’s to come.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

I've been thinking lately that I need to be more independent. I've been thinking that when I meet someone I can connect to, that I feel I have a lot in common with or who understands me, that I need to hold on to them tight. I feel that way because I'm used to relocating and having to start a friendship all over again in hopes that that connection exists. But it's not so easily found.

Is the reason I want to stay in San Francisco my network? Is it my friends? Is it the arts? Or are those all excuses? Is it possible that what I fear is being on my own because that's how I've often had to be? A new kid on the block finding their footing and niche.

What if I picked up and moved across the world? To a country where I didn't know anyone, where I wasn't familiar with the culture, or where I didn't speak the language. What would it mean to make art in a space like that? What would it mean to adapt now that I am more aware of this need to connect with others and feel safe and at home? Is it that I crave stability or the nomadic lifestyle?

It could be this moment in time, but I continue to feel lost all too often.

I can say that you've taken a new form. For the first time since starting this new chapter.

It's refreshing being in that moment  of utter creation. A mashing of materials, experimentation. Pulverized clay in my hands and using my fingers to blend four colors and grits and textures in one. Folding and delicately smoothing the clay as a piece of fabric while feeling the weight of it change the experience. It's refreshing to be feel something fall in place. I wish that life would be that way.

Fall

    into

        place.

...Like a puzzle piece that's been lost for a while.

You remain my constant as always, albeit it rocky today. You give me perspective, and I won't lose sight of that. You are no longer a blind spot. You are clear as day, evolving and changing as I do.

Here's to change.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Nicole,

It’s been a while. I know you’re feeling overwhelmed and that things aren’t quite flowing as easily as they do off the edge of my canvas. In fact, you’re probably feeling more like a fly stuck in a dried chunk of acrylic paint or rather a spec of dust that’s carried in a sea into an abyss you know nothing about.

I’m here to tell you, it’ll happen. You’ll find your way and thus you’ll find mine as well. The universe works in mysterious ways. You’ve heard it before. Place your energies where they belong, in opportunities that can help us grow. Compromise. Choose whats important to you. Don’t let this transitional year disrupt your spirits.

As the noises pour in from the street and the tunes of Motown invade your space, take a dive into your psyche, read excerpts from your thesis, recall our letters, return to drawing or your portrait-a-day project.

Create, write, listen, see.

I am present. In more ways than one. In different ways than you recognize. Reconnect and push as hard as you can. And if you fail, try again. Try again. Try again.

Try again ad infinitum. Painting is not a job; I am not a job. So what makes you think our path would fall into place so easily?

Try again. I never left.

Always yours,

Painting


Dear Painting,

I’m dizzy. I’m dizzy from thinking of all the terrible things going on. I’m dizzy from all the stress from my day to day life. I’m dizzy from all the thoughts I don’t have time to think about and so they just float around in my head incomplete. I’m dizzy, and I don’t know what to do.

The world is out of my hands. Which isn’t anything new. But there it is, that constant reminder, that lack of control that I try all too often to capture. You used to be that release, and yet all I did was try to control you as well. Try to fit you to a certain concept, mold you to a form of my choosing. Painting, you taught me to loosen the reigns, so can you teach me patience?

I’m patient. I truly am, but.. (because there’s always a but) I’m at this point of loss and exhaustion. Not with you, with other aspects in my life. It’s like asking the same question over and over and never getting a response. I suppose thats because the answer comes at its own time, in its own form, regardless of whether you want it or not.

Give me the answer. An answer that will free me to return to you. To reintroduce us. Let us close our eyes, take a deep breath, and open them to see how our environment has changed, how its people has progressed, and how and where I stand.

Because I do stand.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

Don' tell anyone, but here you reflect my desire to rid myself of the past. To forget but a mere moment of those people you hang onto, those emotions, those experiences from.

         Today I release.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

I took an image of you the other day, and for some reason it feels like your bleeding. For one, I rarely use that shade of red. That deepened, burnt orange red with tones of maroon. I see myself reflect in you. I bleed, you bleed. At least emotionally.

Hang in there.

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

It’s funny to think about our relationship. At times it can be so serious, I can be so much in my head, even when you try to pull me out. But other times it can be so lighthearted.

We travel together in an Uber pool.

We play tug-of-war.

I brush you and blow dry you.

I carry you.

And you carry me.

I’m glad we can have these moments. Because what fun would it be otherwise?

Always yours,

Nicole


Dear Painting,

I found this old project I was working on from almost a decade ago. A Portrait-A-Day I called it. The project was intended to help me paint, draw, write, think, and feel. About several things–about art, about me, about emotions, which I dreaded to discuss. As I read each entry, it all came flooding back to me. The tears, the fear, the yearning for strength and love and approval. Quickly followed by notes of happiness; I’d found love only to lose it. This was before our letters, but not before our relationship began. When I think about the words I wrote, I am overwhelmed. And left wondering how much has really changed. Am I still that same girl looking for her path?

Like a constant reminder, friend, and open journal, we continue to persevere. You were so much about adaptation and my past, but what are you now? It’s been five years in the city. Five years in one spot. The adaptation is less about the environment and more so about the day-to-day, people, internal growth, career.

‘The present’ is a scary concept, perhaps because it can feel in so many different ways. It can feel stagnant, just as much as it can feel ever-changing. As soon as I catch my breath I’m required to do something new. Of course, why wouldn’t I?

As I look at you, a scrunched up canvas with pools of blue, a burst of bright colors on a sleek piece of cast acrylic, a small oil scribble that needed to find its place on that canvas from another lifetime, as an open-ended question. There is still uncertainty on where I’ll end up and that’s ok. As long as you’re here and we continue to converse, we’ll get through this.

Call me crazy, but I think we will. Speak soon.

Always yours,

Nicole