In 2010, I attended the Vermont Studio Center for an artist residency. (To anyone who is considering applying – you should! I had a great experience.) There, I met Maria Britton, a fellow artist in a different studio. At the time, she was painting abstract images on sheets stretched taut over stretcher bars.
Fast forward to lately, and I thought about Maria and her work. What does it look like now? Upon Googling her, I see she’s still working on sheets, but in a more refined way. Now, instead of simply painting on top of them, she works into them, incorporating embroidery, techniques. Here’s a statement about her work:
From conception to death, the surface of a bed is a place where one both experiences and escapes reality, a physical connection between dreaming and waking life. In the studio I seek out homespun innovations to play up the materiality of the patterned sheets on which I have been painting for the past 10 years. Recently I have started to incorporate smocking, a form of embroidery, into my paintings which enables me to manipulate the surface of a sheet into a bumpy, textured, and patterned surface. After the hand stitching is done on the reverse side of the sheet, I then carefully stretch the sheet on a stretcher, keeping an eye on what each pull does to the surface. Using washes, glazes, and streaks of acrylic, I work intuitively and impulsively with brushes, sponges, and squeegees. While painting, I am compelled to conceal and reveal the dated floral patterns that I find simultaneously comforting and repulsive. The end result is a mishmash of painting and crafty techniques which transform the predictable patterns into wrinkled innovations.