Ladder Tower, 2021, oil on panel, 30 x 40 inches
Myna Bird Love, 2021, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches
Monocle, 2020, oil on panel, 40 x 30 inches
Coneflower Mist, oil on clear primed linen, 18 x 24 inches
The paintings in ‘Slow Build’ span several years of immense transition in my life. These years have been colored by personal and global transformation, and juxtaposed with much waiting and downtime. Time spent in quarantine and lockdown, time spent on bedrest, and endless hours spent staring at the walls and the ceiling while rocking my son to sleep. ‘Slow Build’ is a nod to that downtime, hours and days spent contemplating my immediate, quotidian environment against a psychological backdrop of great upheaval. A half-done jigsaw puzzle, a vase of flowers, an egg frying on the stove all provide compositional frameworks for mini domestic dramas, and the discovery of poetry, mystery, and beauty in the quiet corners and vignettes of one’s daily rituals.
The most important moment in my painting process happens after laying in the first building blocks of my initial idea. I start with an abstract acrylic underpainting, and then quickly layer oil paint on top to define the composition. I then step back and see what I have, trying to untangle my original idea of the painting from what the painting now wants to become. I’m reminded of a quote from Raymond Saunders, who said, “I can’t tell you why I put these things together the way I do. A lot of what I do is talking with visual information, trying to hear what it’s saying.” For me, two little birds might emerge from some floppy lilies in a vase, as in Myna Bird Love. The clouds in Chickenhawk Moon begin to coagulate into pterodactyl-ish heads, lunging at a setting sun. I add and subtract elements, hoping to refine a visual language that allows the painting to unfold slowly, revealing the slippage between the mundane and quietly extraordinary.
I like to think I am refining my painting process in a way that mirrors the way I am trying to live my life more broadly. Relinquishing control where it proves to be illusory, reacting as gracefully as I can to whatever circumstances evolve before me, and aggressively seeking magic and wonder in all the corners where it may reside. – Rachel Schmidhofer
Rachel Schmidhofer lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA. She received an MFA from Yale University (2011) and a BFA from Washington University (2004). Solo and 2-person exhibitions include Zieher Smith (Nashville), Jeff Bailey Gallery (Hudson, NY), Field Projects (New York, NY), Novella Gallery (New York, NY), and Glike Gallery (Los Angeles). Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at Shelter Gallery (New York, NY), Andrew Rafacz Gallery (Chicago, IL), SHE Gallery (New York, NY), Kent Fine Art (New York, NY), Driscoll Babcock (New York, NY), Zurcher Gallery (New York, NY) Gallery Poulsen (Copenhagen, DK) and the Torrance Art museum (Los Angeles, CA). Her work has been featured in Harpers Magazine, Modern Painters, the Huffington Post, New American Paintings, and Hyperallergic.