photo of the artist holding up one of her works so you can't see her face; the painting is filled with squares painted different colors

Paint Studio Demo Artist Lucía Rodríguez

Lucía Rodríguez will be in the Paint Studio demonstrating painting related to color as light, noon–3 pm July 27-28 and August 3-4, 2019. The Paint Studio is included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and under.

Lucía Rodríguez (1986) was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. She got her BFA from Universidad Católica de Chile in 2009. In 2014 she moved to New York City where she got her MFA from the New York Academy of Art. She currently lives in Denver where she develops her studio practice, teaches at RMCAD, and runs the art space JuiceBox with her husband. She loves color, plants, and good coffee.

Working with color, to me, is like opening a door for specific possibilities, a frame in which I develop a piece for the viewer to reach their own conclusions. Things are not always what they seem, and color reminds me of that constantly.

– Lucía Rodríguez
painting of purple and green plant
Lucía Rodríguez, Immerse, oil on paper mounted on panel. 29x17 in. 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

Laura Thompson: What will your demo at the DAM look like? What can visitors expect?

Lucía Rodríguez: My practice focuses on color—the ways we can create different color relationships and how that communicates something to the viewer. Creating color relationships, to me, is like creating a world. My idea is that through my work the viewer can experience the broad range of possibilities that color offers. I will be painting from life, so visitors can see how I arrange my color palette, build my color relationships, and apply them by painting (or gluing pieces of paper together).

LT: Your paintings range from cropped representations of everyday life to plants to geometric abstraction. Do you see these aspects of your practice as intersecting or do you see them as separate?

LR: One of the things that has been driving my work in the past five years is the intimate connection between abstraction and representation. When we look at things, we really just see abstract elements such as shapes, colors, and lines. When we put them together through language we name them: a pot, a person, a wall. Plants are perfect examples of this because their structures are basically an arrangement of lines and planes in different directions. By painting and drawing plants, I learn a lot about being conscious of what I am actually seeing.

I like to explore the relationship between these two realities of abstraction and language that we experience as a way to connect myself to the present moment. Observation and spending time with a subject grounds me, and makes me realize the world of possibilities I have available to work with. I don’t see an abstract composition of gradients very differently from painting a portrait. What we experience after the piece is finished and the way we see it is what makes the difference between the one and the other, but they do reference each other constantly.

LT: You are the co-founder of JuiceBox, an art gallery, studio, and educational space in Denver. Does your role as an educator affect your art practice?

LR: Absolutely. Being in connection with a gallery space and an educational practice informs my work tremendously. I feel lucky to have access to a variety of excellent work through the shows that Aaron (the other half of JuiceBox) and I curate. I learn from the other artists’ work a lot. It opens my mind constantly and makes me think about new ways to work within my own practice. As an educator, I’ve learned to see my own process as a learning path. I am teaching myself while I work, and whatever I learn I feel eager to share with others as that enlivens my practice.

LT: Your paintings feature a rich use of color. Could you discuss the role of color in your practice?

LR: I think of color as my main medium. Color connects me with direct experience (visual experience), and the nature of our experience of color fascinates me. Color is relative and works in relationships, which makes it ambiguous and flexible but simultaneously part of a whole. One color can be different in different contexts, and, for that reason, we will experience it in different ways. I believe that this quality makes it a powerful communicative tool. Color is a language without fixed meanings, which allows me to suggest, rather than impose. Working with color, to me, is like opening a door for specific possibilities, a frame in which I develop a piece for the viewer to reach their own conclusions. Things are not always what they seem, and color reminds me of that constantly.

LT: What are you thinking about when you begin a new painting? Do you decide on what a specific object or scene represent or do your compositions take form more organically?

LR: It depends on the project. A lot of times I just see something, notice it while I am doing other stuff, and I feel that I want to capture it. The way the light hits an object, or how two different elements look when they are right next to each other. Other times I want to challenge myself to work with a specific color palette and discover how I can recreate what I see within those limitations. If I am trying to learn something specific, I will set stricter parameters. I try to be aware of how these choices come across in the finished piece. Finding a moment is different from constructing one, and the viewers can see it.

Anyway, a lot of the time I use my first motivation as a starting point and the process leads me somewhere else.

Image at top:

Lucía Rodríguez with Untitled, paper on paper, 23 x 12.5 in. 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Laura Thompson is an artist and studio programs intern in the department of learning and engagement.

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