In the energy and the vitality of figures I have found a visual reference for my growing interest in cosmic forces of energy. The ideas come from many sources: friendship with the members of Labrador’s Innu Nation taught me about the energy in land and all natural things; friends who practice body healing make me aware of different layers of energetic fields; practicing T’ai Chi taught me the meridians or streams of energy through the body in Chinese medicine; and learning native Hawaiian culture while living there allowed me to share the layered meanings in their artwork, songs and dance, a vibrational understanding of the world.
These ideas combined with my fascination with quantum physics set the scene for this new series of paintings “Energetic Universe”. The idea that everything, even the most solid objects, are full of this pulsating, vibrating energy at a basic level—that all life is connected by these energies — that just blew my mind. I really wanted to paint some of this unseen energy. In two previous series I focused first on the female energy in “Women of Myth & Legend” and then male energy in “UnCommon Man”. “Energetic Universe” combines both. Using sketches of models with an existing rapport, I consider relationships between the body and space, the body and ground, and between figures interacting.
Aaren Madden writes in Focus Magazine:
“She sought to capture the effervescent potential of human energy in “Piquoia,” in which a figure crouches away from the viewer. He could be crouching in order to spring, run, or just to focus, but there’s a connection with the land there. It’s shown in the sweep of green layered upon layers of gold, yellow, orange, and more green, while the spiralling coil within the figure anticipates action. Kinetic potential sparks against the contemplative ground as warm and cool colours emit their own vibration.
Another painting celebrates the connectedness of all energies and has a delightful backstory. Redwood tells how, in an abandoned house in the Italian village where they live, her daughter and her daughter’s partner found a sack of beans that must have been 50 years old. They planted them and, lo and behold, up came a small crop of luscious vermillion beans, the shade of which became the sky colour in “Borlotti Beans.” While sketching her daughter and son-in-law as they cleaned stalks after the harvest, Redwood had a thrilling realization: “The spirals on the beanstalk were exactly the same spirals I’ve been creating in my paintings in the vital energy of the figures,” she says.
She creates those spirals by laying the canvas flat to apply the marks representing energetic forces so that, when stretched,“the lines continue around the edge in a natural way, extending their energy.” She renders most of her figures with minimal yet efficient
defining lines, using the quick stroke of a palette knife. They contain the immediacy, physicality and visual effect of the Chinese brush strokes she had studied earlier.
Painting is therefore a whole-body practice for Redwood. Her canvases are large and filled with the broad, gestural strokes that document the transfer of energy from her body’s movements to the picture plane. She theorizes that her early training in ballet and continued enjoyment of many forms of dance play a part in her visual expression. “When I use my body, the lines that I make are stronger and you can see and feel that in the painting,” she explains. The spontaneity of her figures also stems from her preference for working from sketches as opposed to photographs, which she finds static and documentary. “My drawings hold the things I am interested in, even if they weren’t what I had intended. The quirks of my hand are there; the ‘mistakes’ are there. And it’s those things, very often, that hold the real creative part of a drawing. Those are the things that I want to bring to a painting, and so I try to forget about mistakes and just be able to be bold and creative with gesture, line and colour.” Those are the same principles she learned from her influential first teacher at Art School in the 60s.
“I focus on gesture, line and colour, this is the basis of my painting, and what I put into it is my feeling. I want to step into another world where these energies are visible.”