Histories- Artist's Note

In September 2010, I spent a month in a residency program at the Vermont Studio Center. While living there, away from the distractions of ordinary life, I found myself with more free time than I am accustomed to. My living quarters and my studio were only a few hundred feet apart and so the need to get “home” after working in my studio all day vanished; home and studio were essentially one in the same. For the first time, I found myself lingering in my studio with newly finished paintings, and I began to write about them. Initially, my goal was simple: I wanted to keep a record of the pieces I completed in Vermont¾ what they looked like, their size, their orientation, etc. Fairly quickly, however, this record keeping evolved into writing that was more exploratory. For the open studio event at the end of the residency I wrote out these texts on paper and tacked them up next to each piece. This approach of pairing my work with the texts was well received. More people paused and spent time with the pieces. As the evening progressed, more and more people came up to me and said that they were making connections and seeing things in the work that they may not have without the text. This experience encouraged me to continue writing about my paintings after I returned home.


In the months that followed, keeping a painting journal became a natural part of my studio practice. Through the writing process, which encouraged self-reflection and honesty, I noticed that I was beginning to unearth the less conscious motivations and sources of inspiration for my work; ideas and feelings that I had not been as keenly in touch with before. I began to see that each painting has a story, a history.


These histories trace the forms, lines, colors, and drawings of each painting back to their source, creating a framework of its genesis. Fear, anger, helplessness, frustration, pain, love, family, hope, light, sincerity -- these are just some of the “protagonists” shaping the storylines that thread in and out of my paintings. My decision to share these stories here came out of a belief that honesty is the deepest essence of any art form. I strive to paint with integrity, and I hope this is apparent in my paintings and their accompanying texts. By introducing these histories, my goal is to give the viewer new ways of understanding my work.


These histories date from December 2010 through August 2011. I have included every painting and text that I completed during this stretch of time. Preserving the candid, personal nature of the journal entries was paramount as I went through the editing process. It is, in part, the vulnerability that these texts possess, which I hope will deepen the viewer’s insight into the work, inviting them to link these histories with their own.

© Copyright Rose Umerlik 2005 - 2023.