More than one dozen abstract figurative paintings of women by Melinda Cootsona are part of a new show shared with painter John Chang that opens at Mill Contemporary on August 31.
“These works are oil and cold wax on panel,” explains Cootsona, who has only been using cold wax in her paintings for the past three years. “I get beautiful, beautiful textures with the wax.”
Cootsona, who lives in Silicon Valley and had a 15-year-long career in the field of design, loves working with thick, gooey oil paint mixed with wax that she adds to her panels in layers with palette knives and a squeegee-type tool. Part of her process is controlled, but lots of surprises emerge in her paintings.
Sketches based on photos are often the basis for her imagery. “Photos, for me, are all about light,” she says. “I primarily reference photos for information about light.”
While Cootsona’s paintings may be based on friends and models, they’re often loose self-portraits. “Every figure I paint is me,” she reveals.
Cootsona, who has focused on landscapes and still life paintings in past years and says she still loves to paint still life, enjoys the challenges she faces as a figurative painter. “It’s some of the most complicated work I’ve ever done,” she adds.
Also on display are acrylic paintings by Chang, whose work expresses the duality of his Chinese and American experience through the juxtaposition of traditional and unconventional symbols and images.
Born in Shanghai, China, Chang now lives and works in southern California.
“By invoking calligraphic forms, I am commenting on the distortion of language, but I am also reclaiming the energy of the written word,” says Chang in an artist statement. “Tapping into my ancestral roots, I also use pigments for their symbolic power. I consider myself a ‘spiritual escapist.’ I am especially interested in making and unmaking meaning with the combination of word and image, particularly in this age of digital communication.”