We are proud to present to you—in this special, socially-distanced format—the work of twenty-one painters evenly plucked from studios in Hawaiʻi, California, and New York. Each painter was sent a survey that asked six questions designed to uncover the reason why they paint. For consistency, those surveys, combined with the personal observations made during our studio visits, were used to construct the curatorial statements that now accompany each artist’s work. By working closely with the painters, we hoped to ensure that our written interpretations accurately reflected their answer to the big question: WHY ARE YOU PAINTING?
Laura Krifka is drawn to the luscious texture and slow drying nature of oil painting. She describes highly focused ten-hour painting sessions where she will finesse the subtle temperature shifts and gradients on naturalistic figures, or, other times, laboriously hand paint the complex geometric patterns and architectural elements of her compositions. Laura needs a medium that will remain open during these long stints, stating “I want the edges of patterns to be soft. To accomplish this the edges where two different colors/values meet both have to be wet, allowing them to blend together.” If something goes wrong in the process of making these soft edges, the session is compromised, and she must begin again.
For Laura, such obstacles are simply part of the rich character of oil. The frustrations, such as a compromised ten-hour painting session, are negligible when standing next to the medium’s versatility. The artist states that there are “never-ending ways you can seek to manipulate oil paint.” As the medium dries she can produce different kinds of brush strokes, increasing the complexity of her painted surface. She adds, “I also like the way it smells, and the way it feels on a palette knife.” That relationship to the sensuous aspects of the paint is something found often in painters, but Laura’s process and final products, especially, demonstrate a deeply sensory connection to paint. The human figures in her work, and the environments they inhabit, seem gelled together in a sumptuous, unified saturation of pigment and oil.
The artist says that paintings “tickle a part of [her] brain that nothing else can reach,” adding “they are weird and seductive, sometimes brutal and cruel.” In other words, Laura is painting because paint moves her in a way that nothing else can. When asked about the relevance of painting in today’s world, she comes back with an eloquently straightforward response: “if you are a person who is moved by painting, there is a pretty good chance there are a few other people on the planet who are going to be moved as well, you are relevant to them, they are relevant to you.”