LAUREL SHUTE

In my abstract works, I am involved with translating into paint the feeling of seeing tactile space and light; visual sensations of being in natural environments.  The paintings have elements like rhythmic shape relationship, color dynamics in space, imagery of nature, fragments of grids, and see-through layers.  The large paintings are expressive of my experience of topography and atmosphere in the Hudson River region.  The smaller relief paintings are involved with bark, trees, reflection, and water surfaces that are up-close and intimate.  
 
Walking on trails, my observations of light reflecting on the river or trees, led to the small mixed media bark paintings.  Composing the paintings with pieces of bark that fell off of sycamore trees, the organic bark shapes are animated; sometimes appearing to be animal-like with faces.  So the mixed media paintings are titled to personify nature, like “Eye of the Mountain” or “Skin of the Water”.   Playfully, recreating random light effects in nature, I painted in relief with the use of reflective mylar, bounced fluorescent color, and flirted some with glow-in-the dark effects with phosphorescent paint. 
 
In contrast, the large oil paintings are based on observations I made from the train window, commuting on the Hudson Line.  For two years, I made collages while on the train, my concept was to connect strongly to the place I was traveling through at that moment, to have total awareness of being part of the unique Hudson River environment, which was outside of the train.  In this group of works, I made cutout shapes that ended up connecting to make one assembled shape that “floats” in the center.   Each collage is about a sense of place, with natural forces and shapes that visually connect to the environment.   In my own thinking, each of the collages is a 2D freeform sculpture, which has shallow space with both light and shadow effects.  I started the two larger paintings in the exhibit, by studying this collage with layered color effects, light, shadow and then playing with the illusion of distance in space and motion in space.  Each painting is a contemplation of a place in the troposphere with specific shapes, color tensions, sense of depth in space, and visual motion.

My concept of abstract “space” in my painting is about the space we share on Earth- the troposphere. 
 Immersed in colors, shapes, and kinetic sensations, the painterly expression of the tactility and realness of this living troposphere is the subject I search for in my spatial color abstractions.