Diane Novetsky and Jo Anne Rothschild, two New England painters, share an expressionist style of painting, an emphasis on the primacy of color, gesture, and process, and a concern for the nuances of “touch” or paint handling. Both arrived at a personal brand of abstraction through improvisation, a work process that has much in common with music.
Early on Rothschild saw the grid used in her paintings as corresponding to a music staff. The grid became a way of determining the placement of marks — how close or how far away the marks might be, established a rhythm; size and color established weight and emphasis. Music became a way to think about composition as a form of drawing with color or marks, independent of reference to nature.
Novetsky sees her work process as related to jazz improvisation. While her abstract paintings suggest references to landscape, clouds and the sea, they emerge through an intuitive process. Structure is more fluid and atmospheric than in Rothschild’s work. Tone, contrast and texture are emphasized over drawing.
Each artist has arrived at the mastery of their respective painting materials — oil paint and acrylic paint on canvas. Rothschild uses oils, a slow drying medium that is ideally suited to the slower development of work over long periods of time. Novetsky uses acrylic paints and a variety of polymer-based mediums such as textured gels and pastes that allow for a generally faster speed of working. Her work is painted upright on an easel, as well as horizontally on tables, allowing for pours of paint as well as the use of brushes and paint knives.
While both painters remain steadfast to abstraction — “what you see is what you see” — they also share a strong humanist mission. For Rothschild, the compassion found in the work of Rembrandt remains a strong influence. Their work is adventurous, intimate, playful and sometimes dark — sharing the full range of human expression.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website