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                                                                                       Lissa Rankin


delta- the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet. Anything triangular, like the Greek capital delta , Mathematics- an incremental change in a variable, a nearly flat plain of alluvial deposit between diverging branches of the mouth of a river. 
Astronomy –a star that is usually the fourth brightest of a constellation.

Three years ago, when I first began painting this series, my life was in flux. The dynamic tensions that arose were projected through my art. What evolved was a series that reflected my conflict with the status quo. Egg-like circles are pulled together, as if by gravity, while being simultaneously drawn apart, weightless. Etched lines create the vital push and pull, at once drawing the elements inward while they appear to resist the centrifugal force drawing them into the center. I try to demonstrate motion and address issues of conflict and resolution, reflecting what 's happening in my own life. I view painting as a vessel for expressing the relationship dynamics around me, with the colorful elements becoming figurative, in peace or in friction. Each tells a story.

When this series began, I was still struggling with the fluid dynamic between myself as artist and myself as healer. In trying to find balance between these opposing forces, feeling the conflict between the spiritual nature of art and the pragmatic side of Western medicine, I sought to clarify the dichotomy within myself. Painting helped me realize that, in order to resolve the conflict, I needed to leave my medical practice. While the decision was very difficult, I now feel free. Without the pull of medicine drawing me away from my creative life, I finally feel comfortable revisiting the color in the Delta series, after two years of creating work for the Plainsong series. The changes in my life bring new energy to the art, and I believe that embracing color, once again, must signal my personal healing. Now, when those close to me ask "How's life?", I like to say "It's full of delta." In taking risks, I feel like I'm jumping off cliffs, but while the end is a bit uncertain, the free fall is definitely worth the ride.

plain·song ( pleyn-sawng, -song) the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times, modal liturgical music; Gregorian chant, any simple and unadorned melody or air.

In the Plainsong series, I embrace the serenity of painting. In the absence of color choice, I find myself becoming one with the process of painting, in its purest state. I began painting this series shortly after the birth of my daughter, the death of my father, a geographical move of my family, and the exciting but difficult decision to retire from my career as an ob/gyn physician. In the midst of the chaos, escaping to my art studio, where I could blanket myself in the tranquility of monochromatic painting, became a welcome haven.

What results is imagery of life and birth, pushing and pulling in opposing directions with gestural lines, simultaneously drawing in and letting go . Abstractly figurative elements suggest family structures, relationship tensions, and dynamic interconnectedness. In some of the art, I deconstruct garments that represent important milestones in my life and recreate them in a painting, giving them new life and helping me to heal the past. As I work with whites, I try to capture the luminosity of light itself, embracing the sensuality inherent to the highlights it suggests- the white light of the sun on a lover’s face, the grayish-white of a moon glow, the dappled light of rippling water in late afternoon.

Marrying encaustic painting, painting with molten beeswax, with painting in white tones seems a natural union. While white invites comparisons to substances in nature- snow, clouds, water, ice, and alabaster, wax, itself a natural substance, enhances the properties of white, adding translucence, depth, and a sense of fragility. The paintings are created using many thin layers of wax, which attract light and refract it, leaving interpretation open to the viewer.

Recently, I have experimented with sculpture for the first time, informing the art with elements from my paintings- the egg shape, the female form, the vessel- to explore working three dimensionally. Over time, my paintings have become increasingly textural, so making the journey to sculpture seems a natural way to grow as an artist.

As I learn to find more balance and resolve conflicts in a more peaceful way, I continue to seek the open doors that lead to greater inspiration and experience. For now, the Plainsong paintings are a way to close off from the world, open my heart to insight and introspection, and gently integrate back into my surroundings in a peaceful way. Through it all, the journey of my life continues, touched with light, brilliant with reflection, airy like a plainsong, an unadorned melody.  

 

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