Observing Creativity

Within the Sanctuary of Expression
September 24, 2020
Patricia Qualls Gallery studio photo
A peek within the Sanctuary of Expression

For those of you who may not know me I am Emerson. I have worked with Patricia for the past 4 years. My working for Patricia began as a part time role while finishing my computer science degree at UCSC. I began as a studio assistant/intern handling things like social media and helping move her massive large-scale paintings. My role at the gallery has since become increasingly dynamic and now includes varying tasks. My time working with and getting to know Patricia has been inspiring and full of compassion, healing, and growth, both as an artist and as a human being.


The purpose of this blog series is to give anyone interested  a unique perspective of Patricia Qualls the artist and individual. I took it upon myself to write this first piece as I knew that if I brought it up to Patricia without having already written it she might dismiss the idea as it would not align with her selfless nature. Nevertheless, as one who interacts with and observes her in her sanctuary of expression day in and day out, I see it as my duty to share my unique perspective of the radiant soul that is Patricia. I believe that to truly begin to know an artist of Patricia's nature one must observe her, for to ask an artist to express themself through something such as an "Artist Statement" is akin to asking a piece of art to describe itself to a viewer in words. To do so would be to rob the observer of their own unique interpretation afforded by unadulterated observation and experience of a piece of art. Because my role at the gallery affords me the ability to observe Patricia in a way others could not, I am compelled to share my unique perspective of Patricia and her art so that you might have a glimpse into her sanctuary of expression in the way that I have been blessed to.


The fact of the matter is that even my own perspective, being in the studio as Patricia paints, is not witnessing a version of her expression in its purest form. For though I am able to observe her paint each day I know that her greatest revelations come in solitude. Just as one's consciousness must enter the sanctity of silent mediation to glimpse eternal truths, and quantum particles must be void of observation to inhabit a state of superposition, so to an artist must reside in the comfort of sanctity to connect with the purest sources of inspiration. This is evident in Patricia's early work. I say early work not in the usual sense of her first series' of paintings as an artist-although this holds its own truth-but in the literal sense of her work before day break. Before the hustle and bustle of life and the peering eyes of others. Before the possibility of outside criticism, judgment, or premature observation of her work. You see, in order for an artist to enter a state of pure expression the way Patricia does it requires a complete letting go of the mental constructs that cause our own internal judgement.


For the moment one judges a painting is the moment it ceases to speak and begins to devolve into a contrived permutation of its original potential.


Anyone who has had the opportunity to paint with Patricia knows that her approach to expression is one that requires an open mind, body, and spirit. Patricia's studio is referred to as a sanctuary because that is what she has made it to be by remaining open. Open to feeling the sometimes sorrowful, sometimes joyful, and often hopeful interpretation of the world around her. She does so with such uncritical purity and unencumbered curiosity that the paintings are allowed the space to come to life through her expressive gestural movements, brush patterns, and color arrangements. This is evident in each of Patricia's paintings which vary in style, approach, and feel. Each piece carries with it it's own energy. Each layer, each gestural stroke, each melding of different hues is a unique combination of feeling, emotion, movement and chance. 


To understand the type of artist Patricia is one must understand why she does not brand her name on the face of her paintings, choosing instead to sign them on the back. For in Patricia's eyes, to do so would be to imply ownership and this opposes the very nature of her expression. Just as her approach seeks not to impose her will on the painting, but to facilitate a state that allows it to come forth, her interpretations of the world conveyed on canvas are meant to be experienced as their own unique expressions of which she is simply a catalyst, medium, and fellow observer.

About the author

Emerson Christie

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