This is a blog about a young artist whose work I really admire. Alice Browne (b. 1986, Oxford, U.K.) tends to work in oils but also acrylics and coloured pencil on paper, her work is abstract but based on real experiences, other people’s painting, films or things she has seen. Her work is about space and how we experience space through our own eyes as opposed the through a camera lens. She’s interested in layers and how colours and textures can create space.
She works very quickly and tries not to overwork her pieces. She normally starts with a colour and then reacts to it by placing another colour on top that interacts with the previous one in some way. She tends to combine the subdued or neutral colours with bright acidic colours. When she is not able to paint for some reason she works through her process with coloured pencils on paper.
One of her paintings Covert, 2011, (oil on canvas, 110cm x 100cm) combines a warm elephant green grey with a dusky pale blue and a darker cobalt(?) blue on a white background, there are also some small bright and pale pink areas.
The composition is built up in blocks of colour that overlap each other, she uses washes so there is a transparency about each colour, the colour breaths. She has used very smooth strokes and some very frantic brush marks; this adds another dimension to the composition. The combination of quite dark colours with white and bright pink creates a lot of movement in the composition. The use of washes make it possible to observe how the painting was constructed.
The painting feels fresh and confident but also sophisticated in some way. It’s a youthful picture full of optimism. I think these concepts are conveyed by the combination of colours and the rapid administration of paint in luscious washes together with hurried brush marks. It also has a free and easy quality to it, it’s quite a large painting yet it is very minimal and not overworked. She has used an oval shape quite a few times in her pictures from 2011.
This painting touches me on many levels; I love the fearlessness of this artist. She is unafraid of creating something with a reduced colour palette and only a few shapes. Using very basic elements she creates something that is full of light and richness and is also highly sophisticated. I think this is a great talent and I am in awe of it. I admire how she can connect something that is very instantaneous and intuitive to a memory. Something about the use of colour, simple shapes and the texture of the washes, the loose brush marks just makes my heart sing. It’s hard to know where this appreciation comes from, I don’t know why I like this but I do. What I really like about working with abstraction is the freedom to connect with yourself and your work. Your imagination is free to react to what you are thinking and feeling in that moment, you are also free to react to what you have laid down on a surface. You try things that might work or you try things that shouldn’t work but do, you put on, you take away. I feel lost for words, I can’t seem to find a valid reason for why I feel like this but it’s something like liberation. I love that this artist works quickly, unscrupulously creating a large body of work, full of moments of inspiration.
I find it hard to say anything negative about this artist’s work as it is just what I feel I aspire to, however, for my own tastes I’d like to see her go somewhere a bit zanier, somewhere less conservative, I’d like to see some weirdness in her work, it’s all just a bit calm and cool for my liking.