Laurie Danial is an active painter and printmaker based in Portland, Oregon for the last 23 years. Her studio practice is informed by themes of the internal and personal while engaging the political events of contemporary culture. Through a highly intuitive process of image creation, abstraction and figuration, Danial creates evocative, invigorating oil paintings on panel. Her work is firmly focused on the dichotomy of perfection and execution. Whether her ideas spout from archaeology or graffitti, Danial pushes the envelope of representative elements and pure flights of the imagination.
She says of her work, “[it’s] a messy showdown of abstraction, figuration and literal imagery.”
Laurie Danial received her art education at Pacific Northwest College of Art and Portland State University from 1987–1991. She has exhibited throughout the Pacific Northwest and is currently represented by Froelick Gallery in Portland, Oregon.
I am six or seven years old, sitting at the big dining room table working on my new paint by numbers clown face painting. Painting kits like these were popular when I was a kid and my mother would buy them for me from time to time. This kit came with several little pots of thick, gloppy color and a cheap bulky brush with hairs that stuck out in all directions. Painstakingly, I attempted to paint all the tiny areas with the appropriate color. Hours it seemed went by. In tears and frustrated with the botched results, I threw a small fit. My mother consoled me and said, “You’re just tired, tomorrow is another day.” My unhappiness was only exacerbated by the fact that I knew that my lack of success had nothing to do with being tired and that my painting would never come close to resembling the picture on the front of the box. To my mind nothing short of perfection was acceptable. This early memory marks for me a proclivity hell bent on an esthetic ideal. Yeats said it best in his poem, The Fascination of What’s Difficult, which for me draws a parallel to the messy showdown that ensues when painting without a script.
For me, meaning emerges from the act of making and not the other way around. As a process based artist, I tend to work with a kind of faith—earned through experience—that one can find something in nothing. A nonverbal, circuitous and wonderfully problematic investigation that is both daunting and thrilling. Integrating both abstraction and representation multiple frameworks come into play: cultural, gestural and free association, to name three. With an avoidance of the formulaic, I construct an image bit by bit by layering, obscuring, and building upon disparate forms and elements such as quirky grid-like structures, semi-transparent color fields and geometric patterning. These formal devices, as well as happenstance are strategies that I use to distance myself (at least for a time), from the specificity of a given image and consequently allow for the subconscious to guide content into being. Neither pure originality, nor an-all-too-tidy resolution are my goals. Rather, I wish to arrive at a compelling yet veiled narrative. To find an image which surprises not only myself but also engages the viewer in their own open ended conversation.