“I experience moments in the natural world that fill me with resonance and freedom,” says Salt Lake City artist Lauren Underwood. “These experiences may happen close to home on a neighborhood walk or in the garden or they may happen far from home on a hike or adventure.” You’ll find these experiences reflected in her titles: “Spring Runoff,” “Night Blossoms,” “Alpenglow.” “The visual space of my paintings communicates beyond my visual experience and conveys the magic and mystery of the nature.”
Underwood attended Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, where she was able to design a personal BA entitled “Facilitating Creative Learning through Community.” At the Art Students’ League of New York, where she went after college, she was influenced by an abstract painting class with Frank O’Cain to create her own abstract style. It’s a style influenced by her travel through the landscape, whether by train, foot, bike or car, that involves a process of response, disassembly and reconstruction.
In her current body of work, which was recently on display at the Art at the Park event in Salt Lake City, she says she lets “the resonance of my memory or experience of the natural world arrange itself into abstract patterns and sometimes nearly representational shapes. When I sit down to paint, I make marks until I connect with a memory of one of these moments of spiritual connection. The imagery and patterns that emerge describe the visual and energetic experience that I had. I then cut the composition down into smaller and smaller rectangles. As I move down in size of rectangle I may move away from any initial symbolic imagery and focus on movement, color, and lines. I am free to be an explorer in the composition and let go of control of the final product. When I work on each rectangle, I am interested in how new lines react to the patterns that are already in the space. I work each piece until it feels like a ‘completed painting.'” To finish a work she glues the rectangles to a wood panel and applies a clear coat of encaustic wax to unify the reassembled elements.
“I find working this way to be very productive for myself because I am motivated by the curiosity of how the painting will have changed from the initial composition. It is also help for me to work my creative practice into my schedule since I have a full-time job. The process naturally breaks work into manageable chunks for just an hour each day if that is what I have time for. This process also removes any anxiety for me about if the final product will be any good because I only worry about one piece at a time. It creates a very mindful practice.”
Currently she works with modest sizes, but she is curious to experiment with larger formats. She also may reverse the process, beginning with small squares and assembling them into a unified whole.
In addition to her artistic career, Lauren has also worked in the field of After School Education for over a decade, teaching art and now managing an after-school program. She is also a certified yoga teacher.
You’ll find more of her work at laurenunderwoodart.com and on Instagram.
All images are courtesy the artist.
UTAH’S ART MAGAZINE SINCE 2001, 15 Bytes is published by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.