• Bio

    Ann Finholt currently lives and paints in West Hartford, CT. She received her MFA in painting from The University of Iowa and her MA degree in art history from Hunter College in New York. For a number of years, her endeavors in the visual arts focused on exhibition organization as well as writing catalogue and exhibition essays for shows in New York and locally. At present her artistic activities are devoted to her own studio practice.

  • Artist Statement

    My paintings begin with observation, frequently of my neighborhood, but also of other nearby locales. They start with something that draws my attention, often strong light and color, sharp value contrasts, pattern, a sense of motion and tension. The inspiration might be a crisp-edged white house set against a black cavity; flickering yellow, red, blue in the tangle of trees, plants, grasses; the jumble and jangle of nearly abutted forms in tight spaces. Sometimes I don't know exactly what it is that compels me to look at a subject with scrutiny, but an indefinable buzz, a jolt, pulls me in, and each piece becomes an exploration and search. My beginnings in physical reality may surprise viewers. I am not concerned with accurate representation. My work is primarily abstract. In the end, however, I hope that something of the spark and spirit of my original stimulus remains in the work.

    Observation is the start of my process, but the abstract issues of painting are my preoccupation: composition, color, value, light, rhythm. How does the eye travel around the picture? Where is the focus? What engages? Is the color intense enough to trigger a reaction? Does it have enough weight to convey gravity? Added to these formal concerns are the properties of my media—oil pastels—which resemble oil paint in their flexibility. They can be scraped, wiped, and blended. They can be translucent and brilliant, but are also capable of mud, murkiness, mystery. They produce both obscurity and luster.

    Oil pastels also lend themselves to gestural work, another central aspect of my painting (I consider the works paintings because the surface and qualities of oil pastel so closely resemble painted canvases). Physical engagement with the subject is important to me. The movement of hand, arm, body are reflected in the structure of my work and are part of the energy they project: short quick chops, dots, dashes, sweeping masses, squiggly lines. They are crucial to bringing life and energy into each piece. With these fluid marks, I often contrast geometric forms, sometimes crisply drawn, to add the tension of dissimilarity and edginess to the pieces.

    Vincent Van Gogh, Willem de Kooning, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard inspired me for years. They remain influences along with current enthusiasms Ying Li, Joan Mitchell, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann. I draw courage and encouragement from two favorite descriptions of the process of painting by contemporary artist Ying Li. She quotes Philip Guston. "When you're in the studio painting, there are a lot of people in there with you—your teachers, friends, painters from history, critics…and one by one if you're really painting, they walk out. And if you're really painting YOU walk out" and Frank Auerbach, "The whole business of painting is very much to do with forgetting oneself and being able to act instinctively." These statements add armor to my quest to convey the particular charge I feel from looking, seeing, and making, and to continue to push to find the visual answers that seem the most satisfying to me.