By 1987 I had produced a body of abstract paintings on canvas. Initially, I manually incorporated dry pigment into cold pressed linseed oil to produce my own oil paints but soon found store-bought acrylics preferable. In 1987 Karen Wilkin, New York art critic, writer, curator, and educator critiqued my work in my Victoria studio elucidating my successes and failures as an emerging abstract painter. I had by then studied the works of Canadian artists such as Emily Carr, the Group of Seven, Lemieux, and Riopelle whose work appeared in Canadian exhibitions that I had attended. Later in l987, I traveled to Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles to study in both public and private galleries. In that one year I came face to face with the works of all my mentoring luminaries from the textbooks and periodicals. In New York I saw the works of Gottlieb, Pollock, Hoffman, Motherwell, Frankenthaler, Calder, Miro, Twombly, and DeKooning and in L.A., Mark Rothko and David Smith. In Toronto, I saw the works of Bill Perehudoff, Harold Feist, Jack Bush, Gordon Smith, and Betty Goodwin. As a result, abstraction had an even greater appeal for me.
Resonating with my original natural inclinations, the formalist abstract paintings I studied in the galleries, together with the writings of Clement Greenberg had a transformative impact on my evolution as an artist. I explored the possibilities of separating color from form greatly increasing the size of my canvases to as large as 80 x 80 in., engaging the viewer's entire visual field by creating a significant physical presence. For professional and peer feedback during this period, I attended the Emma Lake Artists Workshop in Saskatchewan in 1988 where I met and painted with other abstract painters, including Bill Perehudoff and Harold Feist. The input from both artists and critics was intense, informative, and catalytic. It accelerated my progress both technically and expressively.
For the following ten years ('87 to '97) my painting remained solidly in the genre of formalist abstraction. Gradually the more primitive squeegee application of heavy-bodied, gelled pigment was replaced with an interplay of color washes, solid color fields, and reduced texture. In 1990, Karen Wilkin returned to critique about 20 large canvases providing expert and invaluable feedback. The subdued abstract line drawing that I had begun to incorporate into the color field painting was identified by Wilkin to be a unique expression in my work. Six western Canadian artists were also present and participated in the critique. In the same year (1990), I attended the prestigious (juried) Triangle Artists' Workshop in New York. The critiques were again intense and inspirational. The international crossbreeding of creative and technical ideas in the studio environment with artists from various countries was very stimulating: abstract sculptors such as Clay Ellis inspired new ideas for two dimensional painting. During this time in New York, I visited the studio of Sir Anthony Caro, viewed the personal art collection of Clement Greenberg and discussed with the latter, his inspiring philosophy of art. In 1994 I received another studio critique from Karen Wilkin with other attending and participating Canadian artists. In 1995, my work was critiqued by Ken Carpenter, Chair of the Visual Arts Department at York University. The many, aforementioned, knowledgeable individuals sharpened my artistic instincts, expanded my insights, and set standards of excellence critical to the development of my artform.
wendy skog abstract art studio copyright 2021