I like to work with super simple, blocky, almost childish shapes. I use big, flat brushes and viscous materials that make it nearly impossible to get overly fussy or detailed. Some of the forms are vaguely 3D or seem to reference something from the real world, but these are isolated cases and are almost always surrounded by choices that disrupt any kind of illusion or reference. It is important to me that the visual language I’m creating is highly elemental and never overly reliable. To me, this makes a painting, a sculpture or a body of work come to life.
I intentionally muck-up visually pleasurable terrains with misfit elements. I always notice and appreciate stuff that is out-of-place and off-vibe in the real world as well. The person dressed inappropriately for a funeral. The colorful lobster buoy bobbing in the ocean. The neon orange safety cone on a dirt road (actually, any neon safety elements anywhere). I respond to the broken pattern. Always have. It is no surprise that my palette of choice includes bright, flamboyant, out-of-place colors right next to all the easy-going ones. For me, the brights are more awkward and challenging to work with. I love to negotiate between gaudy and tasteful in my work...
Stacking, layering and lining things up in the way that I do is instinctive, as is mixing and building color worlds. Planning and premeditation are not part of it. My choices as a painter and sculptor emerge out of a responsive, way-finding process—building and reacting, building and reacting—and the results are vaguely foreign yet familiar.
- Jen Wink Hays on her practice, 2021