I thought it would be intriguing to ask painters this simple yet complex question. This query comes with no ground rules—it’s up to each individual artist to find their own approach and direction.
This project will be an ongoing exploration … let’s see where it takes us.
What is Painting?
Featuring Pamela Staker
I find “What is painting?” to be an enormous and frankly overwhelming question. As I have been thinking on this, trying to formulate some sort of response, I’ve been dogged by the thought that it is hubris for me to even attempt an answer. I have a profound respect for painting and painters. The history, the painters I’ve known and watched develop over the years, the artists that trained me and are still in my life, the appreciators and supporters – it’s really such a beautiful circle.
Despite my misgivings at trying for an answer, I can say what painting is and has been for me. The path I took looks something like this:
1. Learn how to paint (sounds easy)
2. Discover that painting is hard and chuck it for found object assemblage work (not that there is anything wrong with that)
3. Grow a little older, get sober, and begin to miss being a “straight” painter (uh-oh)
4. Go through a painful process of relearning how to paint (ouch)
5. Put in some hard, long, and not very glamorous hours to figure out how to use the paint to communicate my vision and develop a personal vocabulary (feeling better and still/always a work in process)
6. Follow the paint where it leads – let the paint become what it wants to be (now experiencing glimpses of pure joy)
Painting is my preferred means of communication. It’s where I find clarity. When painting, I am able to experience a full range of emotions – anger, irritation, disappointment, grief, hope, excitement, love, joy. My desire to experience the mystery and expansiveness of creating is always present. Where words fail (for me), paint excels. When I identify as a painter it means much more than just the act and process of painting, but an entire way of living and seeing the world.
Pamela Staker, Seated Figure in Nature, oil and gold leaf on canvas 70″ x 60″, 2015
Pamela Staker is a Chicago based abstract painter with a concentration in large-scale paintings, mixed media works on paper, and commissioned artworks. She also moonlights as a curator and advisor. Her work/live space is in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and she shares the studio with her German Shepherd Dog and 2 cats – all rescue animals. Staker received her BFA in painting from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and has received several grants and awards including an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship and a CAAP Individual Artist Grant from the City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs. She was recently featured in a Chicago Tribune article from July 27, 2014 by Rick Kogan “Painting put artist’s life back on track” and in an artist interview with Saatchi Online. Pamela is represented by Moberg Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa and has works in numerous private and corporate collections.
The What Is Painting? Project – More Featured Artists