Artist's Statement

Making art is an act of communication in which there are twoactive participants, the artist and you, the observer. I hope that some of my images will resonate in your memory, so that the process of recollection becomes a dialogue with the image.

My work is surreal, sometimes mystical. I'll juxtapose objects, persons and environments to create multiple layers of meaning, the way poetry and dreams do. I’m fascinated by invisible forces, time, death, transformation, gravity, love, and other hidden connections. I’m searching for a common tongue in which to share this fascination with you.

I work in a variety of dry and wet media (such as pencil or gouache) on paper, imaging software, collage, and oil or acrylic on board or canvas, usually refining my ideas in small studies before I work on a larger canvas or digital file. I have often found inspiration in the surprising combinations of color, texture and shapes of a collage. I have even been inspired by the tattered layers of color on a weathered billboard, a glimpsed reflection in a dark window, or the shape of ink rolled onto a paper towel during printmaking (see Doorway to Heaven).

When working with found compositions, I let my subconscious off the leash on this field of shapes and shadows until I discover a theme to pursue; I follow that thread through a maze, sometimes stumbling into monsters and angels. I elaborate on the discovered theme with colored pencil, marker, ink and paint, until the image resembles my vision.

Since the very first versions of Photoshop and Illustrator, I have been testing the boundaries of digital media in creating original work. During the last few years, digital painting and drawing have become my preferred media, because I am usually illustrating a story, and have a clear and detailed vision to share. Getting there is just a matter of time and work. I'll start with multiple models, if possible, and sketch and discard many quick pencil studies before I translate one into a digital file. Although "happy accidents" are less frequent, the process of planning, revision, and experimenting with new tools, lets me draw ever closer to my vision.


Thank you for visiting.


— Li Gardiner