“Painting and working in the studio has been the greatest source of inspiration.”
Unlike most artists whose desire is to gravitate to New York the color field abstract artist Ruth Pastine moved from the center of the art world to the rural city of Ojai in Southern California to advance her work.
As she told My Art Space blog’s Brian Sherwin “Painting is my life and the art world is the world I live in. I grew up and lived in New York until just prior to September 11th, when I moved to Southern California. I got to the point where I wanted to work from a much more private place outside the hum of the market place, and enter the art world when I wanted, not because I was living in the midst of it. This has been important to the work, as the paintings are hard won, and my process is rigorous. I don’t like being sidetracked from my focus.”
A focus that is dedicated to painting as end in itself. “The work is rooted in the perceptual experience of color, light and temperature,” she says.
Growing up in New York the city’s famed art institutions were Pastine’s “back yard.” As she has explained “My mother was educated in art and art history and we went to museums and galleries as part of our daily lives.”
Such was her immersion into and fascination with this world that becoming an artist was inevitable.
As she told the Ventura County Star “From my first year of high school I knew I was an artist. I already knew Claude Monet, then when I learned about impressionism and studied art history, it all fit[ted] together. Once I began to see there was information that was unessential, I started to eliminate it slowly. By the second or third year of college, I was heading towards my mature work now. It wasn’t until my master’s that I saw that composition or any delineation of geometry was a distraction from the experience of painting. You start with a system, and it’s through painting itself that something happens.”
An integral part of Pastine’s system is to work on a series of paintings, all at the same time, which in turn inspires her next body of work.
Which she explains as “I never know from one series to the next what will evolve as the successive series until I’m in the thick of it. As I work towards the completing of a group of paintings, there is always some recognition of a point of departure which defines the next series of paintings. This is discovered, I never know in advance. One series always influences and informs the next series of paintings. Usually a pivotal painting is the threshold and door to a new group of paintings. This painting is key and mercurial in that sense, as it’s able to define the closure of one body of work and offer a potential gateway to a future series. Every painting is connected in the series and there is a greater continuum that links series to series and the work as a whole. Working serially advances the work within such close parameters, and offers me great insight into that which is unknown.”