Studio Art

from the Pink Book


One Nite



On The Work of Lili White

Lili White’s previous works have often found their genesis in some found element of nature. A leaf, a shell, or related souvenir has been used as a starting point for a painting, video or installation piece. Often these works serve commentary on her experiences with Jungian thought.

In a new series of drawings she reverses her strategy by starting out with more modest art materials and finding a bit of nature. These drawings start with brush and ink lines that insinuate calligraphic forms on paper. A solid overlay of either metallic or opalescent color is then applied to obscure the lines of ink. Using various tools she engraves a new drawing onto the shiny surface. This secondary drawing interacts with the first to create a dizzying third that defies its two dimensional plane. The kaleidoscopic results pulsate as the matte ink and glossy oilstick reveal sub-patterns and meta-patterns. It’s like being at a party where Rousseau and Boccioni are both talking to you at the same time and with a champagne buzz on. Elements lyrical, decorative, primitive and futuristic tumble together in these drawings like the cosmos one hopes to catch a glimpse of in Blake’s grain of sand.

— Anthony McLaughlin, Philadelphia

————————————————————————————————————————————- from lecture: Invisible Energy: Asian Art Influences in my Work delivered at the College Art Assoc; Seattle Washington 2003These works fuse together philosophies and art materials of both Eastern and Western civilizations. The compositions resemble writing from no known language, unless its language that belongs to the collective – unconscious.Executed on paper, I use black and vermillon Sumi ink, and transparent, iridescent, oil sticks and pastels. When I write the first layer of ink, I carefully place the strokes so that each stroke has a visible relationship to the one next to it. This method, as I found out later, is similar to that used in Chinese calligraphy where the character or ideogram is composed so that the graphic includes the negative space wherein each mark sits — echoing to the surrounding lines and making a visible energy force felt between them. This perception is also found in ink paintings where landscapes of mountain, sky and water take into account the complimentary negative and positive space felt between them, illustrating the concept of “yin & yang”. The interacting nature of these relationships is found both in my written glyphs and between the different layers that dialogue with each other. After painting the two layers of ink strokes, I completely cover the whole surface of the page with the pastel or oil stick. This plane of color, which is transparent, iridescent, and metallic, somewhat obscures the underlying ink composition. I then engrave a new linear pattern through this surface to interact with the underlying layers of ink, in order to reveal new relationships that sometimes defy the flatness of the picture plane. All in all, I designed this method so that it cannot be adjusted nor amended, nor transcribed to another medium (such as printmaking) without losing my original intention: for it to stand alone as witness to my process occurring at a specific moment in time.As I progressed in my method to make these artworks, it became important to me that the ink strokes were of a deliberate form and shape, so I took a year long course in the art history and the applied studio practice of Chinese calligraphyand became an amateur practitioner. My paintings sometimes employ similar forms and share techniques and philosophies of these methods. I am not a calligrapher, however, but I do use the methods that I have studied briefly in order to manifest a shaped ink line in my work. I undertook the practice of copying Chinese calligraphy while sitting at a table, and afterward made my own work also while sitting at a table. I have made the Chinese brush the tool of my trade, as it is expertly designed to form such particular strokes.

The same strokes found in calligraphy are used as a basis for the drawing in Chinese landscape paintingswhich show several vantage points of the scene at once.Similarly, my compositions, such as Carrier and Gloaming, use overall glyphic markings that continue beyond the edge of the paper to present a concept that there is no beginning or end — only change in the field of energy that we all inhabit and suggesting an endless universe. My work strives to eliminate the perspective “grid” and the role of the edge or frame that plays a part in Western Art.