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Artist ID: 2215

Allan Kaprow once said, "The everyday world is the most astonishing inspiration conceivable. A walk down 14th Street is more amazing than any masterpiece of art."I love this quote...and I love to walk. For me, a walk reveals less an amazing masterpiece and more a faceplant into the everyday and the absurd: an uncomfortable conversation; a mismatched outfit; a stroke of color where a stroke of color shouldn't be. On my walk, what is created is not on the horizon but rather underfoot, something I stumble over, something awkward and mundane.

So I walk, and I look, and I ask myself "what if?'

What if I paint a gaudy orange and blue grid next to some faux grass? And what if I paint an unraveled balloon animal on top of that? Or what if I create my own frame using hot pink spray paint and it's perfectly shitty. And what if inside of that shitty frame I paint a smiley face- and then maybe on the backside a frowning face because that's life…

My paintings imperfectly conceal layers of bad decisions. Sometimes the bad decisions are covered with a thick layer of house paint. Sometimes they peak through. Sometimes two bad decisions push against one another and create a lovely tension.
The work itself makes me feel a bit uneasy, but holds my interest long enough to realize there's something about it I love. Is it the bright colors that seem out of place? Or the combination of textures? Maybe it's the almost recognizable object or the imperfect animal print poorly adhered to the surface of the canvas. Or perhaps it's the grid lines suggesting structure when I know there is none.

Occasionally I’ll have an imaginary conversation with another abstract painter. When I ask Trudy Benson what she might do next she responds, "add a thick luscious squiggle of red.” "Robert Motherwell help! I'm stuck!” And he confidently replies, “Add a blue door, of course!” Good or bad, the decision, however, is mine.

To put it simply, I’m in love with the act of painting; the back and forth, the obedience to curiosity that always leads to ‘what if”. I’m seduced by colors and interesting compositions. And I try not to overthink it. I plan the first brushstroke or mark. Each corresponding mark is a decision or reaction to the previous mark. It’s not uncommon for me to leave a piece of masking tape or scotch tape on a finished painting. It shows my process and it’s honest. The layers and leftover marks show the passing of time and reveal my humanness. I honor the imperfect display of both.

Leah Thornton is a practicing artist currently living in Birmingham, Al. She graduated from Auburn University in 2009 with a B.F.A. in studio art. She currently works at Wheelhouse Salon as a hairstylist and plans to attend SUNY Purchase in the fall of 2022 for an M.F.A in painting.

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