Bookbinding and Mixed Media
My brain wants to draw a perfectly straight line, but my eyes are drawn to the irregularities of the “imperfect.” There’s an energy in the imperfect. I find it in nature, as well as in art.
Nature’s beauty is built on the chaos of irregular lines, odd shapes and juxtapositions, yet somehow, it all comes together to form a place of quiet contemplation. It’s one of the many things that I find so fascinating about the natural landscape.
When I look at art, I see the shapes of the lines, marks and brush strokes. Viewed up close, they take on an abstract and often random quality; from a distance, the beauty of the whole is revealed.
Through my art, I explore this connection between energy and serenity. I take cues from photographs and from memories of the feelings that nature instills in me.
Over the years, my art has evolved from working with collage materials and their pre-existing characteristics, to creating mark-filled color fields, to my most recent series which does not involve collage at all: large-format black and white drawings in gouache on paper. Throughout these bodies of work, the presence of marks is a fundamental characteristic and an integral aspect of my process. People have described the marks in my artwork as having a calligraphic quality.
I use a variety of tools to make marks, from palette knives and an old Easy-Bake-Oven spatula to bits of paper and string. There’s a facet of unpredictability inherent in my art-making method. Depending on how much paint is loaded on the tool and the force used to apply it to the paper, the paint may end up thicker or thinner, or a string may squiggle this way or that.
The biggest challenge is knowing whether a particular mark — one that may or may not have turned out quite as I’d expected when it landed on the paper — is the one that unites unanticipated juxtaposition and interesting balance to complete the artwork. Sometimes I have to walk away for bit and return with fresh eyes to make that determination. Often I’ll see things that I didn’t while laying the marks down on the paper. It’s all part of the creative exploration.
You can See more of Natalie MacKnight’s work at her website, MacKnight-Studio.com