Artist statement

A truly honest account of my practice must tell you that the work I produce, revolves around materials and process, as a way of illustrating fundamental concerns within my life.

By and large I do not have a platform or a cause to promote through my work. There is only soap in my soapbox. The cerebral concerns of the works often take a back seat to the prosaic making of the art. I have grown comfortable with this way that I work. Alas, I have found no other.

This direction was a subconscious way of making the journey as an artist. A journey I have seemed to be incapable of deviating from. And not the way I initially intended to make art. As a younger artist the images I visualized and hoped to make were realistic and surrealistic, fantastical, intricate and full of metaphor and linked meaning. Colorful, deep and intensely involved were the characteristics of the work I wanted to find on my easel.

I could never fully realize these ideas/images, and commit them to canvas satisfactorily so at some stage, and with considerable struggle, I have come to make what clearly I am supposed to make, indeed am compelled to make. Work that is visually tactile, patterned and intricate.  Non-imagery that can still evoke the idea of images, that often begins as an interest and a love of a particular medium. On this journey I have departed from my original medium of printmaking (studied at degree level at Edith Cowan University) and now choose to paint and sculpt.

The process is often thus; a form and/or a medium come to mind and I decide upon a way of making it. I have the materials or I source them. I research a new medium. This can be a difficult task in itself, before the actual painting/sculpture begins. Sometimes I need to go on forays to gather new products. I research and collect and like a squirrel I return to my studio, offload everything and begin with experimentation and play. I paint, cut, carve, melt, pour, layer, dig, gouge, scrape, mould, form and cast. Most importantly, I persist.

Whatever is on my mind at the time is found, exposed and committed to canvas or board. I make something out of nothing. Sometimes my hands, arms and back ache, my head too on a ‘good’ day. I am intoxicated by the scents of oil paint, gum and mineral turpentine, thinners, beeswax, fiberglass, wet clay, wood-sap, paper, glue, and acrylic mediums. Cut Styrofoam, oil mediums and resins.

The process is most often long. Time consuming, laborious and often arduous. Repetitive and continuous, and not without frustration. Sometimes one must keep making the same marks, doing the same actions, without losing concentration, enthusiasm or hope; this sometimes drudge, in itself a suitable life metaphor. Wherever I begin I invariably return to my ‘signature’ marks and motifs. The soft sculptural curves/leaf/teardrop shapes that sometimes hinge (unintentionally) on being sexual have become a constant. They ooze from me like blood flow that will not be stemmed. My hand returns to, and makes these marks. I hold onto them and they hold onto me. They seem to be my pets. My familiars. My comfort. My calm. While the imagery (non-imagery) has changed over the journey, these motifs and shapes have remained and I attribute this to a kind of stability/characteristic that holds me steady, often subconsciously, through the highs and lows, the dips and gullies of life.

To be held onto and turned to, through the peaks and troughs of the journey. One must keep on. It (life) must be lived. There are alternatives yet I have not met with them. The other motif/go to method, present in my work is layering.  I often begin (on canvas) with layers of translucent acrylic paint, which I eventually work over with oils. Once I told myself this was an inability to put down immediately, what I wanted to. Now I know better, and realize it is part of the process. This is part of a slow build, a creeping up on what I want and a chance to artistically change direction without having to abandon the start.

I mostly use semi and completely transparent colours, seldom use straight white and never use black. As black is purely the absence or complete absorption of light, there is not need to use the pigment. One can achieve complete darkness and depth by layering colour. Both colours, being without hue, have no gradation, no variety, which is antithesis to my nature.

I want to make beauty, a beautiful object that will inspire emotion in the viewer. I do not hope or presume to convey my own emotions to that viewer. We all need to make our own readings. The reading a viewer takes from my work does not trouble me. If I am forced to attach some (more) meaning to these works I can only say that often, the not-too-pretty truth is that I am mostly preoccupied with melancholy, death, memory and the conundrum of how these wash up against the joy and beauty of the natural world, and our individual moving through it. Our success and our failure and our definitions of such. The actions of achieving success in life where success is not attached to money, social standing, ownership/accumulation of objects and fattening superannuation balances.

Do not be deceived. As there is turbulence under a calm deep blue ocean, there is motion in a static object. There is emotion, energy and shift in everything. Nothing is really as it seems. We need to look deeply and sift through layers if we really seek/desire understanding. We cannot stand back. We need to jump in.

The following is a quote from Jasper Johns that eloquently speaks about my own journey of illustrating life by process;

Johns was asked the question, “What is working vwith encaustic like for you? Is it a struggle or does the wax just flow?” His reply, “I wouldn’t describe it as either extreme. One proceeds. One watches what happens. Things happen unexpectedly, some that I would be happy to live without. But it has been a pleasure to watch what happens”.

Taryn Lee-Steere

Copyright © Taryn Lee-Steere 2016.
Website design by M2 Studio.
Photography by Christopher Sanders.