A latecomer to the art scene, Rena Doud didn’t start art school until her sons entered high school. She was in her late 30s then, but hasn’t wasted time since.
In her exhibit of recent acrylics and watercolor at Big Sky, Doud has included some paintings that are different from the ovoid shapes she often employs in her abstract art. Examples of those curvilinear styles, “Conscience” and “Medusa,” are in the waiting area of Big Sky. Some of the new forms in recent work are more recognizable as figures.
“I get all over the place,” said Doud regarding her work.
Although she normally works on fairly large canvases, she did bring in a small piece to hang in a special area of the venue, “Open Door,” which is unlike any of her other paintings. She was even doing a lot of sharply pointed shapes for a spell. Of late, the Morro Bay resident has been painting more feminine forms, such as the angel-like figure in “Expressions” and the female form in “Barriers.”
“I don’t know if I’m a feminist or not,” she said with a laugh.
Some others, such as “Knight” and “Warriors,” have a more geometric appearance than her others. For “Warriors,” she sees some kind of metal uniform, a shield, a helmet.
Doud sticks with abstract, in part, so that viewers can bring their own thoughts and feelings to the experience. When she entered art school in Orange County and finished up at Washington University, she was strongly taken with abstract expressionism and artists who painted from inner images rather than from the outside world. She especially admired work by Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell.
Her thrust is deeper than what meets the eye.
“I try to show the different things that people do,” she said, “Like your consciousness may be evolving.” She wonders if this new intention in her art comes with age. Doud turns 89 tomorrow, and although there’s nothing she can do about looking older, she hopes she remains young in attitude. One thing that Doud says absolutely hasn’t changed in the 50 years she has been painting is her method of starting out with no idea of the goal. She starts with a stroke, adds to it figuring out what she wants to express.
She will flip the canvass around, upside down, or one side or the other, then walk away from it. “When I come back, I get a new image.” She believes this rotation process is essential to good composition.
“Turning the canvas and viewing the work from all positions is the only way you can find something not right,” she said.
When she gets near the end, she’s not sure when the work is finished. “I hem and haw, hem and haw, and it won’t leave me alone,” she said. Then the final touches come to her.
“When it’s over, it’s over,” she said. “It doesn’t talk to me anymore.”