click here for resume

I often begin my work by painting small full color oil studies on site using a portable field easel.  From experience I have found that I am able to gather more memorable visual information if I make a painting rather than take a photograph. As I stand there for several hours working, I develop a sense impression of the place, beyond the visual, that is helpful to me when I return to the studio. Later, because of the day's experience of the changing light, the smells, the birdsongs and car noises, I am able to recall even more information than I have gotten down on canvas. In this way the field studies function as aide-memoires. On site, I begin the process of sifting through the welter of visual data that the landscape contains. Someone once asked me if my paintings were fiction or non-fiction. I answered "Non-fiction, but severely edited". The field studies are the first rough cut. Sometimes they are the source material for the black and white studio work very directly and sometimes they support that work more generally. They are a source of play and pleasure for me.Nothing beats setting up the easel outside and squeezing out beautiful colored blobs of paint on the palette.

For the last ten years I have been painting the remains of the marshes that used to encircle the San Francisco Bay in its entirety. Most are gone now, filled in and built over, but some have been preserved as parks and wildlife refuges and they are the sources for these paintings. I am drawn to the marshes partly because they are simple landscapes, composed of only a few elements, made interesting by minute shifts in light, tides and weather. They are largely unnoticed wild space directly next to densely populated urban areas.

Other landscape painters from the past influence my work, currently nineteenth century American painters. America has always defined itself through its relationship to its landscape, especially wilderness,  and these paintings are my thoughts about that.




Copyright © 2004 Olivia Kuser - All Rights Reserved