By Fallon Chase
I’m fine admitting that my work most closely resembles the notebook of a middle school girl. The pink, purple and gray could be conglomerations of botanical doodles made with gel pens on seventh grade math homework. I enjoy challenging what is important enough to go into a painting and want to give space to the girly vocabulary and symbolism of hearts, stars, and flowers.
The painting I’m working on now is stretched out flat on my studio floor like a rug. Hearts, stars, and vine clusters obscure a tablet of words. Around my studio are photos cut from fashion magazines and the old cut up soda cans I use to hold my painting mixtures. A pile of glitter sits near the canvas.
My studio is the attic/loft area where I live (in Herndon, Virginia.) Although I grew up in the area I’ve only been in this studio since last May, after finishing my BFA in painting and literature at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. I love watching the sky change color through the two skylights in my studio space. At midday the sun makes bright marks on the floor that slowly crawl up the walls; I wish it could stay the rich ultramarine blue (that comes right before the pink sunrise) all day long.
I live at the end of the metro line and the commute to and from my day job is long. I frequently use the time to draw — grids and arrays of hearts, stars, or flowers. I almost always begin my paintings by working through the patterns I’ve made in transit with marker on paper – often on the white borders of glossy fashion magazines.
In my studio I transfer the patterns onto blank canvas. I always start on un-stretched raw canvas, bigger than I think I may need, and build up the image with oil paint, collage, and image transfers. The paintings grow slowly and organically as I add bits here and there and the last step is stretching the canvas for display.
I find the patterns I use in the world around me, drawing inspiration from textiles, nature and art history. I’m excited by city trees covered in sugary ice, a patterned blouse glimpsed on a train platform, soggy moss eating up an old gray stone, an exquisite, embroidered couture dress, kid’s art’s and crafts, those little lit up nooks that blur by deep in the metro tunnels… Worlds nestled inside other worlds, places made of the same stuff but dazzling with a disorienting other-ness. It’s these moments of disappearing from the known that I try to capture in my work, like little hidden pockets of garden.
As I paint the patterns become form, sometimes growing into landscapes, tablets, or tapestries. Stories begin to accidentally make their way into the work. Words too can become a sort of pattern and letters, secret messages, memories, and things I’m reading often make their way in. The paintings are my little worlds, equal parts fiction, memory, and the illogical constructions of patterns seen and imagined.
About the Author
Fallon Chase, originally from Northern Virginia, graduated in May 2014 with a BFA in painting and a minor in literary studies from MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) in Baltimore, MD. Her work has been shown throughout Baltimore, DC, and VA. She now lives in the DC area, paints, reads, and works at a museum. View the artist’s website at www.fallonchase.com.
This article was produced and published on in the arts magazine Bourgeon with the support of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities within a partnership between Day Eight and the Washington Project for the Arts in conjunction with WPA's Hothouse: ImPRINT exhbition that will open in May at the Capitol Skyline Hotel.
May 1, 2015