RECYCLED: the work of Audrey Paesel

The Chess Game, oil on panel, by Audrey Paesel
Living in Europe for a number of years., my husband frequented many flea markets. He found some sensational “buys”. When we returned to the U.S., he discovered several second hand, rather seedy, shops in Madison to replace this passion. There he found old army ammunition crates, dartboard cases, cigar boxes, and various types of wooden containers., brought them home, and presented them to me “to see if I could use them.” The various wooden containers lay around my studio/house until I was finally inspired to use them in place of canvasses and /or frames. The idea of recycling wooden containers appeals to me, not the least of which is the absence of framing prices. I also believe strongly that as artists we have an obligation to cut the volume of waste we send to the landfills and to make the most of our planet’s resources.

The most challenging part about using these old objects is the sanding, staining, and repairing I do before painting on them. For some, after sanding, I make an outline of the of the object to be painted on the wood and gesso that area two or three times before painting. For others, when the container is too deep to easily reach the surface to be painted, I cut a panel to paint, then insert it in the box.

The ammunition crates are exceptionally sturdy and versatile. I often keep the doors on and paint on them as part of the whole painting. When the doors are removed, I use them for other paintings. A Crate of Pears is painted on a panel inserted in the ammunition crate without doors. On a few paintings, I have glued mirrors on the insides of the crates that face each other so that the painting is reflected over and over again. The Chess Game is one of these. On two works, I have stacked the crates. One is a painting of a jester, A Fool and His Money, with the jester’s arms and legs extending onto the doors of the crates. He is dropping money into the space between the crates.. The other, Children Don’t Count Totem, is four stacked crates with a different child in each, in some sort of pain. The possibilities are endless.

A cigar store in Madison sells cigar boxes for a very reasonable price which are of various sizes and shapes and can be hung or placed as an open container on a table.

Probably my favorites are the old dartboard cases. A few years ago, dartboards in taverns became electronic and the old wooden containers were thus obsolete. When the dartboard is removed, the case is a beautiful triptych, similar to the old altar pieces in medieval art. Paintings in these cases can be viewed closed, half closed, or completely open -- three paintings in one! Youth is Made of Pleasance, Age is Full of Care was inspired by a trip to Alaska. There I saw in a gallery Inuit Indian “transformation masks”. The ones I saw were of animals: i.e. the face of a bear opened to become the face of a dog. Youth is Made of Pleasance... shows a portrait of a youth in a sunny atmosphere when the dartboard is closed; half open the youth’s face lines up with an old man’s; completely open is the old man in a bleak and dying environment.

Working in a very small studio room in our townhouse on Lake Monona in Madison, I arrange and rearrange many of my husband’s “buys” from the European flea markets together with other objects that relate to one another. Each work begins with a drawing which I transfer lightly to the gessoed wood before painting the entire surface in Indian Yellow. My paintings are done in glazing layers over time. I have two or three paintings going at a time because of the drying time factor. I admire the work of the contemporary Norwegian artist Od Nerdrum and emulate his mood suggested surrealism and palette. Accordingly my paintings are built from many layers of glazes,
wood and gesso that area two or three times before painting. For others, when the container is too deep to easily reach the surface to be painted, I cut a panel to paint, then insert it in the box.

The Chess Game, oil on panel, by Audrey Paesel Children Don't Count, oil on panel, by Audrey Paesel A Crate of Pears, oil on panel, by Audrey Paesel A Fool and His Money, oil on panel, by Audrey Paesel Youth is Made of Pleasure, Age is full of Care, oil on panel, by Audrey Paesel
Youth is Made of Pleasure, Age is full of Care, oil on panel, by Audrey Paesel
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