When I started this painting I had a fixed plan. I’ve learned over time that having a fixed plan is detrimental to my painting process, but I have a natural propensity for order and it’s always a challenge–and a goal to let go and free-fall. I’ve always admired people who are unselfconscious and fearless, and lucid in their thinking; it’s the polar opposite of me. Yet I’m a closet show-off without the natural bravura, so I’ve managed to find a way to express myself in all my split-personality glory. I like dichotomies. My work is full of them. I found this photomontage of these women and their hairstyles and instantly knew it had to be the buddy image for my painting BIG HANDS. It isn’t the natural order of things for the companion image to inspire a completed artwork, but this particular photo embodies the energy and driving force behind my work as a whole.
My initial plan for this painting was to fill up the canvas with found text that I’d assemble and paint in a specific way. But as the painting progressed and the idea fell flat, it evolved into something else—like a giant robotic figure. Once the painting was done I began to research intergalactic images which led to funk music and its fashion styles. I stumbled upon this photo during my search. I feel a kinship with these hairdos. There is nature versus the artificial; the loose versus the hard edge—recurring elements that are also at play in my work. Their hair has been painstakingly styled into precise sculptural and geometric forms in bright, saturated colors. It’s a deliberate process, yet daring and dynamic in its spirit and final resolution. I’d like to think of it as a type of free-fall—in a controlled-paint-drip-kind-of-way. Erika Ranee, 2014