series statement for Planetary Series

by Laura Allen

"In this series, I combine a traditional landscape medium, watercolor, with nontraditional methods and intent; the result is a series of distinct new worlds made entirely of abstracted elemental suggestions: geological layers of earth, implied streams of water, the atmospheric subtleties of air. While some clues to landscape remain, such as an horizon line or the heaped shape of a mountain, the images also resist the literal depiction of any known landscape. A quality of the fantastical remains, and these make me think of the landscapes of undiscovered planets, each with its unique geological and chemical makeup, hence the series title.

I began each piece with a series of spontaneous layers of watercolor and water-soluble ink on heavy watercolor paper; the process consists of several steps of wet-into-wet pouring and various resist techniques. The dried images are often beautiful in their own right, but I am then ready to begin the real work of choosing shapes and gestures to leave in, paint out, or augment. I add opaque backgrounds and a definite horizon line; I often work back into the painting with further transparent inks, leaving drips, streams, or pools of color.

When studying the results of my initial spontaneous pours, I choose the masses I want to leave in very carefully, looking particularly to create areas of balance and counterbalance. As the pieces move toward greater specificity and definition with each step, the most successful of them develop a quality of quiet, dynamic potential that is reminiscent of the balancing rocks of Utah or New Mexico.

My overall body of work can be seen as an ongoing exploration into processes which use both spontaneous, uncontrolled techniques and deliberate, considered techniques in the same work, each by turn; when I find a successful mixture, such as with the “Planetary” series, the results are very satisfying. A sense of wholeness arises and each work is pervaded by a sense of self-contained geography, as if each painting were complete unto itself, a world contained within its own frame of reference."