Local painter Tricia Strickfaden takes a daring new direction.
- Written byAlina Orozco
Glancing over the new works crowding Tricia Strickfaden’s small Manhattan Beach studio, it’s clear the series isn’t going to be what anyone expects from the artist. Gone are the mesmerizing landscapes of sleepy South Carolina low country and the serene oceanscapes of the Pacific coast that Tricia has perfected over the last 15 years. In their place, perched on an easel, leaning against walls and carefully centered on the floor are canvases that together comprise the Organic Inspired Series—a strikingly different collection from an artist so long celebrated for oil-on-canvas landscapes.
The series is of abstract organic forms in mixed media using recycled house paint, dripped and splattered ink, and pastels. In wanting to marry the two genres, Tricia experimented within the same color family as her landscape series. This time around, though, the soothing blues, tranquil greens, calming greys and muted teals transformed into a much more vibrant palette, while somehow still effortlessly echoing the oceanic hues of Tricia’s past work.
“This series is a combination of my favorite palettes of my landscapes paintings and interpreting them in organic shapes and forms in an abstract application, yet remaining true to my love of the ocean and our coast,” she explains.
While the move might be unexpected for fans, Tricia explains it was a natural transition. “I started as an abstract painter years ago, before beginning my landscape series, so I wanted to get back to my original abstract roots.”
The strokes are confident, layers complex and the process much more experimental. For landscapes, Tricia often relied on her own photography as inspiration; in this series we see the organic journey of paint on canvas under her direction.
Working with a canvas on the floor, a much more physically demanding feat than working from an easel, she spent hours bent over her labor of love, precisely splattering inks and paints. The process is organic, she explains. “You can manipulate it and edit what you want to keep, but paint has a life of its own.”
Tricia begins by prepping the canvas with several layers of thick acrylic medium—to provide body to the piece and to cover the texture of the canvas. Then the artist starts dripping and splattering ink and watered-down pigments (often the recycled house paint) onto the canvas, spraying water and using roller brushes to create initial shapes on the canvas.
Later, once the canvas is dried, she comes back to edit the composition, usually with white paint—keeping what works and painting over what doesn’t. Final touches of dripping ink and pastels or oil sticks help define the organic shapes and areas. Each piece in the series is unique, carefully nurtured into a harmonious masterpiece by the artist.
“I repeat this process several times until I am happy with the composition,” says Tricia, and then she quickly admits it’s difficult for her to consider the work truly done.
The process is a nod to one of her favorite painters, Jackson Pollock, whose dripped and splattered paintings captured her heart. The complex layering of textures and colors in the new abstract work is an homage to an interior design background, one that undoubtedly has helped Tricia craft art everyone wants to hang in their home.
Since starting this series in March, Tricia has already received positive feedback from designers and galleries. On September 25, you may have a chance to take one of the works home, as she will donate a piece to the art310 annual live auction of fine art and photography, proceeds of which will establish a music program for South Bay children. For more information on the live art auction, go to art310.org.
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