Never Strictly Representational

“Most of my paintings have representational elements and all of them, but they are never strictly representational.” - the artist

Bwampin Bloemin, 2019, Oil on Linen, 20 X 16 inches, $500

Bwampin Bloemin, 2019, Oil on Linen, 20 X 16 inches, $500

Q: What led you to become an abstract artist?

A: I start my work from an idea, a color or a feeling.  From there I start to make associations.  The image I arrive at is not always abstract.  Most of my paintings have representational elements and all of them, but they are never strictly representational.

Squeezer 1, 2019, Oil on Linen, 16 X 20 inches, $500

Squeezer 1, 2019, Oil on Linen, 16 X 20 inches, $500

Q: Where have you studied and how long have you been an artist?

A: I have an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and I got my BA degree from Connecticut Wesleyan.  I have been an artist all my life.  When I was in my late twenties I showed my work more actively than I have recently.

Squeezer 2, 2019, Oil on Linen, 16 X 20 inches, $500

Squeezer 2, 2019, Oil on Linen, 16 X 20 inches, $500

Q: Where do you derive your inspiration from?

A: I get inspired by all sorts of things.  I look at the work of other painters, from all time periods and styles.  I can be obsessed by someone’s paintings for a while.  Anyone from Rachel Ruysch, a 16th century Dutch flower painter, to Bridget Riley to Michael Borremans.  I love all kinds of painting.  I can also be inspired by music.  My painting Bwampin Bloemin which is also included in the work shown here, was inspired by the clavinet beat at the beginning of a 70’s funk song.  Such a great sound, I really wanted to paint something like it.  I have no shortage of ideas for paintings.  I wish I had more time to paint all of them.

Wissen Again, 2019, Oil on Linen, 16 X 20 inches, $500

Wissen Again, 2019, Oil on Linen, 16 X 20 inches, $500

Q: We were very impressed with your Best in Show piece, titled Wissen Again. Tell us more about this piece.

A: Wissen Again is one of a group of paintings that has layered images, like when you stack images in Photoshop.  With most of my paintings I am trying to combine things that don’t go together, or that clash.  So, this was one way of going about having different images exist on the same picture plane.  I like the push and pull you can get from the layers, not having it be clear which layer is on top.  I like the idea of using the very old technology of painting to refer to a much newer technology.  Parts of the images in Wissen Again refer to landscape.  There is a tree in the lower right, branches coming down from the top and the beginnings of a flower near the center. 

The titles of my paintings are always important to me.  I’ve used the word “wissen” in the titles of several of my paintings.  I like the sound of it.  It sounds like “wise”, or like it could have some old English meaning.  In fact, “wissen” is actually a Dutch word that means erase, which makes it even more appropriate for this painting.  I like my titles to seem like anachronisms.  Painting in general seems like an anachronism in a way.  There are so many ways to create images now.  Oil painting is very slow and messy.  That slowness is so out of time and makes paintings seem even more valuable to me.

Wissen Bloemin Even, 2019, Oil on Linen, 20 X 16 inches, 2019

Wissen Bloemin Even, 2019, Oil on Linen, 20 X 16 inches, 2019

Q: What do you hope for viewers to take away from your work?

A: I want viewers to enjoy my paintings.   For a long time, I created small pieces because I wanted to invite the viewer in closer.  Over all, my current work is on a larger scale, but I want the viewer to be able to move back and forth and still be able to engage with the work from closer in. 

I often think about beauty and what people consider beautiful and that is very related to what I want viewers to take away.  For me, it’s about vibration of color, use of paint and the pure pleasure of seeing. 

Zwabble, 2019, Watercolor and pastel on paper, 11 X 14 inches, $150

Zwabble, 2019, Watercolor and pastel on paper, 11 X 14 inches, $150

Q: How do you view your art career in five years?

A: I hope to be showing work more broadly than I am now.  I hope that in five years I will be able to only work as an artist.

About the artist:

“I use saturated colors and distorted images to create paintings of a hallucinatory, synthetic natural world.  I want the things I love to go together.  Funkadelic Bridget Riley painting Dutch flowers. Imagine that you take your painting, grab the edges, squish, twist, stretch and compress.  And you’ve got something else.  Or you could do it this way: take your images, stack them up, use your Photoshop eraser to show what’s underneath. The surface is a metaphor.  Both itself and something else.  It’s still the flat rectangle and the space tipping back to all eternity.  That is one of the great things about painting.  That, and the pure pleasure of seeing.  I think a lot about what people like to look at.  I want to give them that.  I want to spread petals at their feet.”

To view more work by the artist, please visit www.margaretmcniel.com. You may also follow the artist on Instagram @margaretmcniel.


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