An Interview Paige Crosland Anderson

The descendant of pioneer artist George M. Ottinger, from a young age Paige Crosland Anderson knew she wanted to be involved in the arts. After getting her BFA from Brigham Young University, she started honing her unique style. Anderson's abstract paintings — many inspired by patterns in hand-made quilts — provide a different perspective on the seemingly mundane gospel of our everyday lives

The descendant of pioneer artist George M. Ottinger, from a young age Paige Crosland Anderson knew she wanted to be involved in the arts. After getting her BFA from Brigham Young University, she started honing her unique style. Anderson's abstract paintings — many inspired by patterns in hand-made quilts — provide a different perspective on the seemingly mundane gospel of our everyday lives

>I have always loved painting and drawing. When I was in the 6th grade my aunt bought me oil paints and "commissioned" my first-ever oil painting. My grandpa loaned me an easel that was used in the Brigham Young Academy before the art program was moved to BYU and I set to work in his carport that summer. It was my first taste of being an artist and I lived it. There were times when some seemingly more practical voices said, "An artist? You can't make money being an artist. What about architecture or industrial design?" But I've always loved to paint, and practicality couldn't pull me away from that.

>My grandfather was an actor and taught theater. It was him to showed me that pursuing a career in the arts was viable and fulfilling. He eventually gifted me the easel I first painted on in the 6th grade and it's the one I still use today in my studio. He always believed in me and loved looking at and critiquing my work. I have countless memories of hauling those flimsy paper portfolios up the stairs in his split-level home and spreading out a display in his living room. With a careful eye he'd comment on composition, or color or the feelings the work provoked. Those experiences formed in me an understanding that what artists contribute is something deep, valuable, and necessary.

Paige Crosland Anderson. Not Cast Off (2014) Oil on panel. 36 x 36 in.

Paige Crosland Anderson. Not Cast Off (2014) Oil on panel. 36 x 36 in.

>I remember first learning about Agnes Martin in college. It was right around the time I was trying to nail down exactly what I wanted my thesis show to look like. I was struck by the power of repetition and simple forms. It was something that has obviously stayed with me. Another artist I love, Ann Hamilton, works in installation, but her themes and uses of pattern and repetition again spoke to me. I love Paul Klee, Henry Matisse, Rothko, Helene Frankenthaller, and Gustav Klimt.

>My paintings serve as a meditation on how the seemingly mundane and quotidian routines of life eventually stack up to create richness and meaning. Maybe it's being in the throes of early motherhood, but right now the lessons steeped in long-term perspective seem like ones that I can't get enough of these days.

Paige Crosland Anderson. The Sum of Our Ceremonies (2015) Oil on panel. 48 x 56 in.

Paige Crosland Anderson. The Sum of Our Ceremonies (2015) Oil on panel. 48 x 56 in.

>My paintings are made up of many layers (in some places 5 or 6 layers of color). I used to work solely in oil paints, but after complaining about how slow my process is, a friend suggested doing some of the first layers in acrylics. Now I paint the first 3 or 4 layers in acrylic and the last few in oil. I still have a deep love of oil paint, but with limited time to paint each day, pragmatism is winning in the studio lately. I paint primarily on cradled birch panels. I use a power sander to created the texture and depth in my work and the canvas often doesn't hold up as well.

>My process begins by getting out my rulers and drawing out the pattern. Then I’ll paint the pattern in full, let that dry, and paint it again in different colors. I generally do this until it is about 3-4 layers deep in most places–depends on the painting–and use a power sander to break down through the layers and expose the various marks and colors beneath. After I’ll go back to the easel and paint in shapes that don’t aid in the composition or don’t have particularly interesting colors or textures. I alternate between painting and sanding until I’m happy with the composition and colors. I loved printmaking as a student because of the thrill of not knowing exactly what was going to come out the other side of the press (maybe this is just because I was an unpracticed printmaker), but I like to think that sanding gives me that same sense of anticipation as I wait to see what I uncover.

>The whole process start to finish is very meditative. It’s rhythmic and methodical. I enjoy this part of the process and also think it lends to the meaning behind my work—that we are building on what was given to us, that the mistakes can turn out to be beautiful, that by doing the same small acts day in and day out we create meaning and vibrancy, even though while we’re in the middle of the dredges it might not seem that way.

Paige Crosland Anderson. Good Tension to Grow (2014) Oil on panel. 36 x 36 in.

Paige Crosland Anderson. Good Tension to Grow (2014) Oil on panel. 36 x 36 in.

>On my best days I try to get up and put in an hour or so in the studio before my kids (ages 5 and 2) wake up. We do breakfast, getting ready, playing, cleaning up, usually a morning outing or an errand and then I drop my 5 year old at pre-school at noon. This is when the clock starts for me. I race home, put my 2 year-old down for a nap and set to work in the studio. I can work for a solid 2.5 hours without interruption. Then it's back to school for pick-up and a few times a week the park or a museum after. I'll often try to put in some pieced together minutes after school and before dinner when my girls are in the studio with me. When it works and we're all creating together (and they're engaged enough to not need my close attention) in the studio I truly feel like I'm living the dream. Those times are magic. Dinner is between 6 and 7, bedtime around 8 and then my husband and I spend time together. If I have a big show or deadline coming up, I work after the kids are asleep as well. On a normal day, I try to get 3-4 hours of studio time in, but many days aren't normal. I try to approach the frustrations of not getting in the time I wish I could and feeling out-paced by many artists who don't try and stay home with their kids while pursing their career with humor and optimism (and a lot of that long-term perspective I mentioned earlier)

>The best advice I received was don't be afraid of work. Work makes you better. Work produces ideas. Work begets more and better and more consistent work. When I fall out of the groove of putting in my time every day, it's so much harder to get back in there and paint.

>One of my favorite responses to my work is how many older viewers can instantly pick-up and name the quilt patterns and see my paintings as their origins. Many of the younger viewers are much more interested in the colors or the patterns on their own and not in where the pattern originated. Either way, I'm often surprised and the variety of admirers I feel lucky to have. I think the quilt reference lends to a cozy feel, and makes them great pieces to come back to again and again. I also think works that you spend a lot of time with in your home are appreciated in their intricacies much more. You notice strokes and colors and nuances that aren't available to casual observers at a gallery or some other place where they are inundated with a thousand beautiful things asking to internalized.

Paige Crosland Anderson. Looking Up She Blessed (2015) Oil on panel. 30 x 30 in.

Paige Crosland Anderson. Looking Up She Blessed (2015) Oil on panel. 30 x 30 in.

>I'm currently working on a group show opening at the Rio Gallery in Salt Lake in July. The show is an exploration of visual vocabulary. We will try and demonstrate visual vocabulary in an effort to communicate in a language that is felt long before a verbal assessment can be made. The viewer has the opportunity to listen to this visual voice and hopefully recognize in themselves the ability to understand without the aid words. I also have a show in December at Meyer Gallery in Park City that I am beginning to jot down ideas for.

>As far as painters go, I have always admired my 3rd-great grandfather George M. Ottinger. He was an early convert to the church and crossed the plains with the pioneers recording their journey in paint as he went. I love the colors in his skies and landscapes. Once in Utah, he founded the first art academy here, which eventually became the art program at the University of Utah. The Springville Museum of Art and the Church History Museum own most of his works. (He was also the first Fire Chief, which is just a cool side note!) I like to think that the small ways I'm contributing to the arts in Salt Lake City would make him proud.

>I want it to be an example of accessible abstraction. I hope people can still walk up and have an experience that is meaningful while looking at it.

Instagram: @paigecanderson

Online: paigeandersonart.com