Paige Ferguson-Tritt Art

Drawings & Paintings

jackson street
Artist's Statement, 2014
Paige Ferguson-Tritt

My fine art mixed media pieces feature people, places and things: human figures, urban landscapes and modern still lifes. They begin when I want to draw, not paint.

If I had to choose just one focus it would be energized line quality, dimensional with thickness and thinness. Whether charcoal, pencil or dry pastel, I begin with marks – contours from direct observation, signs of the synthesis of seeing and touching. Contour drawing, championed by Kimon Nicolaïdes, was the first profound art secret I learned during a high school class in St. Louis. It was, and is, the hook.

Since I don't have to choose, I also layer swatches of color; swipes of pigment powder; glazes of chalky gouache or watercolor; streaks of casein. I grapple with a childhood of crafters who applied faux finish stains, tole painters' strokes, fabric trims, or tissue paper decoupages.

My landscapes of San Francisco are intensely personal, expressing decades of gratitude and a bittersweet note. They may well be a negotiation of a departure from places I love. Sometimes when I run errands and chance upon a striking view, I think about how expensive it is to live here, and how it's possible I'll settle elsewhere before I die. What images do I want in a room with me, when I'm old, to remember having lived here? Which San Francisco scenes must I make my own?

Originally I was trained to draw an object or a figure as if I were touching it and could feel its weight and edge. Extending the method to landscapes, I've had to explore questions like "How do I touch an incline?" "How do I reach around the volumes of buildings perched vertically, rising uphill for ten blocks?" "Can my experience of the terrain be recorded in a gesture, as if I were drawing a person?"

Most of my artwork is on cotton paper. I use sheets smaller than 14 inches which fit against the steering wheel in my car, where I often work. (2014)