The work usually begins with a color idea or shape idea.
I go back and forth between emphasizing the geometry and color; and I vary the scale from small works on paper to large paintings.
The shapes I use are found in the things I see in the world from everyday life or in the studio. The shapes are used as is or they are transformed into their essential geometric elements. Minute changes in color, area, edge, or orientation can enhance or destroy the emotive response.
Without intending to do so, over time, I create systems in color and shape and line.
The ground is equally important. Many subtle arrangements are investigated in the ground, active lines, or subtle layers of colors.
One-color may be seen or appear in my mind and grow to an association of 2 or up to 6. I rarely use a large palette within one piece. I minimize the color palette instinctively to reduce variables, produce harmony, and eliminate discordance. I may explore a broad range of colors and then reduce it to those I am most invested in.
I am always thinking about the range of color properties: complementary or analogous color, value, saturation, color harmony, or color anomaly.
I am always thinking about what is making a color alive: its size, flatness, relation to its edges, how the eye is prepared to see it by seeing other colors in the piece.
I am always thinking about what is making a piece alive: are the shapes dynamic, are the negative spaces active, is the composition generating energy, does the eye move around the piece?
If a piece feels too symmetrical, I will shift the shapes around until it feels less programmatic.
Lines are at the core. Within a collage, drawing, painting, or print, lines remain important elements throughout every piece. A line is created as I cut the paper’s edge. I draw lines with the tape that I use, lines form the edge of an area, I draw with a pencil, and I draw with ink.
One painting often suggests the next as needed to address unresolved ideas or questions.
I have accumulated found paper, color aid paper, grid paper, sandpaper, and other painted papers. It is a collected diary of forms akin to the writer’s book of accumulated quotations, sentence fragments, and ideas.
Elizabeth Gourlay, 2019
Elizabeth Gourlay explores the dynamic interplay between color and form in abstract paintings that have extraordinary power. The bold geometry, such as the mesmerizing repetition of a horizontal grid, may draw you in, but the small details, the suggestions of inadvertent imperfections, demand your attention. Gourlay brings an exacting rigor to the process of revealing subtle undercurrents of visual dissonance, and these surprising notes—an accent of deep red against a backdrop of moody gray, or a jagged edge of cerulean blue—elevate her work beyond simple beauty into something far more complex.
There is a distinct contrast between what at first glance appears to be Gourlay’s straightforward if gorgeous, paintings and the emotional charge that her deliberate constructions of line and color create. And that’s exactly the point. Past masters of minimalism, from Anni Albers to Piet Mondrian to Agnes Martin—all of whom Gourlay cites as important influences—focused on reducing artistic elements to their essential form. Gourlay’s work demonstrates, as theirs did, that an elusive narrative isn’t any less evocative. In fact, the freedom to interpret the meaning behind any work of art allows for the most intimate of connections.