Gabe Brown (’16): Letting Art Simmer

Every surface of Gabe Brown‘s Saltonstall studio is filled with works-in-progress: one wall (seen above on the right) is covered with paintings while large drawings are scattered across the floor. A huge pile of smaller works on paper are heaped on a table — drawings she brought from home, all in various states of completion. A stack of blank canvases lean against a wall.

“I tend to work on lots of things at the same time,” she says. “It’s frustrating not having finished work, but epiphanies don’t happen all the time. I tend not to be glued to outcomes. I’ll work on 100 (pieces) and get 20 good ones.”

Over time, Gabe has come to think of the oil-on-panel paintings as landscapes. They evolve slowly and deliberately while she both adds and subtracts from the panel. “I think of them formally, using the principles of visual art: color, shape, line, texture,” she explains. “And all of those principles hold a painting together. They speak to each other.”

“It’s like anything — you want a variety of things to choose from — like food. It’s like curry!” she says, laughing, referring to the various elements that eventually contribute to a finished piece. “It takes time, and you add all these ingredients, but you still can’t taste it yet. It’s got to simmer for a while.”