How the Artist Portrays Life, Love, and Memory with Watercolor
Portrait by Theo Coulombe
The narrative and works of artist Louise Sheldon remind me of one of Anaïs Nin's quotes, “And the Day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Louise’s watercolor paintings in her first solo exhibition, Daisy Dew Diamond, now showing at Standard Space in Sharon, CT, beautifully embody her determination to express the artistry, imagination, love, and memories within her mind and soul. Not all is a perfect rose garden frozen in time. Like the cyclical nature of a flowering plant, the works identify the various stages of life including inevitable death. Yet, as I learned through interviewing Louise, that continuous cycle is not to be feared but to be enjoyed by blossoming as one's self.
watercolor on paper, 39 3/4 x 27 5/8 in (100.96 x 70.16 cm), 2022, Framed
What are your first memories of art growing up in Providence, RI?
Providence had a lot of art when I was growing up. The RISD museum was a big part of my upbringing. I took art classes in the museum and went there all the time. My brother and I would rush to see all our favorite things from the collection as quickly as possible. I still rush to them now. In the neighborhood, I grew up seeing really great murals, graffiti, stickers, silkscreen flyers, and temporary installations surrounding the art school. I remember once there were amazing small wicker horses around all the telephone poles someone installed high up and they hung around until they fell apart. I only lived there as a child unaware of specific movements happening there at the time (Fort Thunder) but the creative growth that was taking place was pretty monumental and a big source of pride for the city. I also remember being really inspired by my family’s creative abilities. My grandmother was a watercolor artist and my grandfather built wooden sailboats. My parents could also do many things, they weren't artists, but they worked with their hands a lot. In Providence there were public sculptures all over Brown University that I used to play in, one looked like swiss cheese (“One and a Half” by Carla Lavatelli). My friends were very artistic and funny, and we frequently did projects together. I lived near a video rental spot called Acme Video that had some really amazing films that I was too young to watch but I watched anyway.
watercolor on paper, 27 3/8 x 39 1/2 in (69.53 x 100.33 cm), 2023, Framed
When did you know you wanted to pursue your career in art? What path did you take to become an artist?
I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be an artist. And I always made paintings. When I started dating my now husband, Glen Baldridge, my world changed. I loved him and his artwork so much and he loved me and mine and I knew that then maybe there was a chance that all of this was actually possible and that I wasn't just the kid from “Wet Hot American Summer,” doing the camp radio broadcast with all the cords unplugged. I moved my workspace off my kitchen table and started renting a studio, spending time in my studio, and going to my friend’s openings. I collaborated with David B. Smith on making music in our band Doom Trumpet and that was really cool. My mother got cancer, I had a baby, and then my mother died and all that informed my path. I am still on the path I’m still growing. I'm still becoming an artist. Nothing is separated.
watercolor on paper, 27 3/4 x 20 1/2 in (70.485 x 52.07 cm), 2022, Framed
I have heard watercolor painting is one of the more difficult mediums to master. Why is that? And why have you chosen it for your work?
You may have heard that watercolor is a hard medium to master because it is very transparent and you cannot get away with ever completely painting over anything. There are also some pretty severe laws in watercolor which can put you in watercolor jail for up to 9 years. Maybe I have been in watercolor jail because I have broken every single watercolor law and continue to do it. I don't really get too bothered by seeing the ghosts in my paintings and I am very enchanted by the endless possibilities of the medium.
watercolor on paper, 27 3/4 x 20 1/2 in (70.48 x 52.07 cm), 2022, Framed
Your paintings depict homely objects like plaid tablecloths, landline phones with cords, and flowers. In your mind, what do these objects represent?
The domestic objects inside my painting are often things that give me a lot of feelings layered with visions and memories. Kind of like when you have lived in NYC for a long time and you remember something that happened on that block years ago and now you're here it's like a feeling of endlessness. Time has suspended and you are suddenly in multiple time frames. It's suspenseful and sometimes heartbreaking, but it's also not actually happening. It's so weird and emo, but that's what they represent to me. Maybe approximations of portals in my life. I feel like these things are magical for me.
watercolor on paper, 23 7/8 x 18 in (60.64 x 45.72 cm), 2022, Framed
Through the collage of bright colors and swirly shapes, faces of humans and animals peer through. Are these characters imaginative or from the past/present? What is their purpose within the paintings?
They are faces of people and animals I love sort of all blended into something else that is new. I go out thinking of one face and a totally different one stares back at the end. I don't really know why or how or who. I am not even sure what it is I am doing , but I know it is what I want to do.
Portrait by Theo Coulombe
I understand that this is your first solo show. How does this milestone feel in context to a mother of a four year old son and a wife to an already established artist?
My paintings have been in smaller solo shows before, but this is the first exhibition I’ve put together from scratch and made all new work for. I had one show in a Coal Chute in Brooklyn at a project space called Chute Projects and one in an annex space at Cade Tompkins Projects in Providence. I was in a really great two person show with J. Penry at Safe Gallery in Brooklyn in 2015. I am really excited I got to put this show at Standard Space together, which feels more focused and succinct to me and is accompanied by a forthcoming catalog with some great writing about the work. Glen had a show in January of this year and I did the bulk of the childcare while he was preparing for that. He took over watching our son while I made this show. And now we’ll switch it up again, because he has the next deadline. It feels like a pretty good flow actually.
watercolor on paper, 39 1/4 x 27 1/4 in (99.69 x 69.21 cm), 2022, Framed
What is your favorite piece in the collection and why?
They are all my favorites. I cannot pick one. To hang out with “Cutting Garden” is very encouraging and I liked having it in my studio. “Tablecloth Friend” and I had some funny times. I put it out in a very heavy rainstorm and watched it almost completely wash away then I painted it again. I will spare you any more stories.
watercolor on paper, 16 1/8 x 12 1/4 in (40.95 x 31.11 cm), 2022, Framed
Where would you like your art career to go from here?
My practice is continual and it is part of my daily existence. It is important for my mental health. I hope to continue to put bodies of work together for exhibitions, but I’m always painting regardless.
Daisy Dew Diamond
May 27th - June 25th, 2023
147 Main Street, Sharon CT, 06060
Open Friday - Sunday from 12PM to 5PM & By Appointment
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