Figure and Abstraction

Joanna Brace, Colby College


Being a Senior Scholar was a rewarding challenge. What I learned in one year of focused, independent study culminated into an experience of self growth in which art became a permanent part of my life. One year was an appropriate amount of time for the project because it allowed enough time for trial and error and the incubation of ideas as well as the ever present pressure of the final show which never seemed to be too far off in the future. My objective was to paint with oils on generally large canvasses and primarily focus on the human figure, with the working process as a foundation for growth. I had initial goals which developed and matured as the project progressed. As the project did progress, I underwent various experiences emotionally, academically, and especially artistically. My paintings varied as new ideas entered my consciousness, most developing as a result of previous work done the day or week before. I learned many skills, all of which I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I developed a working process which in its general outline was applied to every painting did. I drew from influences, present and past and discovered new things about artists who made art their lives, inspiring me to dive deeper into my own work. I often ask myself why I paint what I paint. An artist's work is an exposing form of communication of feelings which cannot be expressed adequately in words. Therefore I can only attempt to translate my Senior Scholar experience here in a manner which is understandable to you, the reader.