The mixed media works of Lois Gold are both immensely intriguing and peaceful at the same. Her paintings pull the viewers in with their soft colors and intriguing textures. Embracing “happy accidents” and following a primarily intuitive process, the artist utilizes a wide variety of materials and techniques to give her work not only depth of color, but of surface as well.
Drawing inspiration from the beauty around her as well as an extensive collection of art books, Lois Gold aims to create a balance between figurative imagery and abstraction. “My color choices range from the warm drama of Turner to the pastel colors of Monet,” she says. With an abundance of textures and emotive elements, her paintings are not only seen but also felt by the viewers.
What is your first memory of coming in contact with art? How has your journey evolved since?
I was twelve years old when my mother took my sister and me to Paris to see Monet’s water lilies. I remember sitting in the middle of the Musee de L’Orangerie surrounded by these exquisite works and feeling a connection to them that I had never experienced before. Going to the museum up until then had been a childhood chore to be endured because of my mother’s keen interest in art. Impressionism and Post-Impressionism were her favorite periods and she was a collector way before it was the “thing to do”. I grew up surrounded by paintings and colors. I still remember, so fondly, the blue walls, green rugs, and the floral bouquets that she used to arrange.
When I was in graduate school studying French, I began to sculpt as a hobby and later also took a watercolor course. It was not long before I became addicted – in a good way – to painting. I spent around twenty years working with and exploring several mediums. I loved getting new materials and trying them out; it was like eating a very satisfying meal!
Today, my work has been reproduced in a number of articles and books because of my extensive experimentations and unique usage of color.
Your artworks oscillate between still lifes and purely abstract works. However, both kinds of works have hints of the other – the still lifes have abstract backgrounds and the abstracts have some familiar natural forms. Is this something you plan ahead, or does it usually happen as you go along?
For several years, my painting style was realistic impressionism, so naturally, when I transitioned to abstraction the final product became a melange of styles.
I do usually plan the still life compositions beforehand along with a preliminary blueprint for the colors I intend to use, however, the imagery goes through a number of changes as I go along the process. The same is true for my abstract landscapes, although these are a little more spontaneous. However, in both cases, the initial ideas always evolve into something quite different and unique.
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You do not use any preliminary sketches and work completely based on intuition. Is that right? What is your actual process like? How do you begin – with a color, a mental picture, or a theme?
I feel very strongly that artists should not get “too comfortable”, or they can fall into a trap of repeating their past ‘safe’ successes. Thus, when I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art several years ago for a Pierre Bonnard retrospective, I decided to start painting directly on canvas – to use a brush rather than my hands and fingers coated in vibrant chalks, and try something new. That is what resulted in my current practice.
I started very small by working on paper, which felt familiar and safe. And as the years went on, my paintings got larger and larger, incorporating lots of different mediums and techniques.
I am first and foremost a colorist, although I start with a composition as a substrate and go from there. Even in my most abstract works, you can still see organic forms and vestiges of the many years I spent painting landscapes.
I work spontaneously often painting to music, which inspires me and gets me to a place I want to go.
Most of your artworks have this dialogue between translucency and opacity. How and why do you do that?
I like the push and pull of translucent and opaque areas. I think just as one color affects another, which was so brilliantly explored by Josef Albers, dark inspires light, and thin contrasts with thick.
This is a part of the process I use to create my works, which has evolved from years of experimentation. I am mostly a self-taught artist, and I am constantly going to galleries and museums or using the internet to find inspiration.
Could you tell us a little bit about your collection of art books?
It is truly very helpful for an artist to have an extensive library. I could spend hours poring over Turner’s seascapes, Rothko’s color fields or Van Gogh’s drawings and paintings of Arles. Some of my other favorites are Piet Mondrian’s still lifes (He was a painter of flowers before becoming an abstract painter.), Hopper’s cityscapes and lonely lighthouses, Marin’s oceans, and Edgar Degas’ monoprints.
In addition to my collection of art books, I also have a large reference collection. For example, if I want to paint a peony, I have a number of books on flowers and their anatomy, which I can use to take reference from. I also have books that can help me in the technical aspects of painting.
Do you have a favorite work? Which one and why?
I would be very hard-pressed to pick a favorite work but, if I could wake up every morning to a huge mural of Monet’s Water Lilies, I wouldn’t need anything else!
Collecting art is a highly involving and emotional experience. The artist’s process and intention are some of the factors that make one fall in love with his or her piece. Learn more about our artists’ creative methods and fascinating techniques in the Center Stage and Artist Techniques categories.