New works by Kaetlyn Wilcox
I use gouache and watercolor on paper to create mysterious, open-ended narrative paintings. In these images, natural and man-made worlds are intricately intertwined, and characters interact with strange, unexpected phenomena. Frogs, fish and peas rain down on figures from a melting, starry sky. A hiker wanders through a forest where tree-size beanstalks grow up out of a field of giant, finely wrought birdcages.
Stories, pictures and memories inspire my work. I find my subject matter everywhere, from fairy tales and field guides to epic poems and outdoor equipment catalogues. Bits and pieces of personal history appear in my paintings in images derived from vacation snapshots, family albums and memories that I reenact in staged photographs.
I use materials and paint in a style reminiscent of children’s illustration, a language in which narratives have limitless magical, absurd and nostalgic potential. There is an aspect of the mad scientist in my process, combining months of careful research, planning and detail, with wild, impulsive experimentation. It is important to me that when I begin a painting I have no idea how it will turn out. I use a number of tricks to combat predictability, investing tremendous amounts of time and energy in unresolved, potentially irresolvable compositions, and choosing subjects that stretch the limits of my representational skills. In every painting I reach a point where failure seems imminent. The process of rescuing the image, of turning the disaster around, yields the most exciting and surprising parts of my work.