We’re excited to introduce you to Toronto abstract artist Paige Ring. She defines her artistic style as bold minimalism. Here’s a little more detail about how this shows up in her work: “I have a few different bodies of work, one is several light, hyper blended layers, so light you can see the grain of the canvas. The other is thick, heavy layers of paint that I scratch and scrape through. I love both, and my mood at the time determines which style I gravitate towards when creating. One thing both have in common is subtraction. I often blockout, or subtract areas to find my final composition. Minimalism is always somewhere in the back of my mind when I get to the finishing stages”.
Check out the interview below to get to know Paige and her artwork a little more. Enjoy!
Interview with Toronto Abstract Artist Paige Ring
What’s the main inspiration for your art?
Color and minimalism are what inspires my work the most. I often use a limited palette with just a few colors. Color tells its own story — the technique of how it’s applied, smooth and soft vs bold and loose, give the story life.
Music is also a really big point of inspiration for me. No specific genre, my musical tastes are really varied, but there’s almost always music playing when I work, it puts me in the right mood to create.
What is the biggest goal you try to achieve with your art?
I don’t want people to just see my art, but also visually imagine how the texture feels. My process is mostly spontaneous, and I work hard to simplify and make use of subtraction. My work has bold, gestural strokes, poured paint, and laying of organic marks, scraping and weaving through. Even though many of those marks get covered up in the end, I want people to see that there’s a rich history woven through the layers.
My background is as a fashion designer, and it taught me to appreciate how people see texture. I’ve designed for high end brands sold at Saks, and mass market companies like Walmart, and the one thing they have in common is texture. Fit, cut, and branding all play a part — but how things feel is often at the heart of why someone chooses to wear a garment. As soon as we see something, we begin to think about its textural qualities. We feel things with our mind, even if we’ll never touch them.
That’s a huge goal I’ve carried into my artwork. I want people to see my paintings and then have imagine its textural qualities. Sure, at first you might just see a large area of white paint as a part of a larger composition. The closer you get though, you start to wonder how it feels. Is it rough? Is it smooth? Is it so light the weave of the canvas shows through — these are the impressions I try to create. I want my art to slow people down, so they can appreciate how complex “simple” things are.
What’s your favourite thing about being an abstract artist?
The creation process is my favourite part of abstract art. Abstraction is about experimentation to me, and pushing boundaries feels like a natural part of my abstract painting process. My aesthetic is similar from piece to piece, but the evolution of the materials and techniques used to get to the final painting, is my favourite part.
Why abstract art and not other mediums? Have you always created abstract art or did you start out creating other styles?
Freedom and experimentation is why I’m drawn to abstract art. It’s liberating to create something that’s visually pleasing, almost like a stream of consciousness, but with paint. I love not knowing what the work will be when I start. There’s something magical about responding to marks completely unplanned.
In contrast, I find representational work sometimes has higher barrier for people to enjoy it. There’s a constant evaluation of what it is, and how it relates to real life. Is it realistic enough? Am I feeling how the subject thinks? With abstract art, the viewer can just feel what’s in front of them.
My family encouraged me to explore artistically as a child, so I’ve experimented with a lot of mediums and styles. When I was younger I was very into creating realistic illustrations.
I also designed and sewed my own clothes as a kid, before going to university for historic costume design. I applied those historic costumes techniques into more practical fashion concepts at brands like Tevrow + Chase. Working in muslin and canvas early on in my life helped shape my fine art career. Clothing has the same type of contrasts that make it beautiful, soft and flowing vs rigid and structured, loose and free, vs fitted and confined. I believe that early design work has influenced my abstract compositions today.
A lot of abstract artists begin with traditional skills before turning into abstraction. The best work begins with creating a detailed plan like it would be executed in a traditional medium. Then stripping back layers until only ideas and concepts remain. Creating something without reference and for the sheer enjoyment of the process is addictive to me.
If you could describe your art in three words, what would they be?
A client of mine recently told me my work had powerful “pops of optimism” and I thought that was a great way to describe it.
What’s one thing people might not know about you and/or your art journey so far?
My formal education is in historic costume design and fashion. It occasionally comes up in formal interviews like this, but not much otherwise. I’m a self-taught painter, but cloth was the first medium I learned to appreciate.
Having to turn a roll of white canvas into a complex piece of art using just pleats, folds, layering, and draping, taught me a lot about appreciating technique. Simple things can be very complex, and this is something I carry over into my current practice.
Even my biggest collectors most likely have no idea I left a successful career in fashion design, developing clothes for some of the world’s biggest brands. It was a scary decision, but ultimately one of the best I’ve ever made. I really love the process of making things with my hands, and my art career naturally grew from there.
Did you always know you’d be an artist or how has your art journey progressed?
Definitely! I always knew I’d be an artist of some kind, or at least do something creative with my life. Creating isn’t something I like to do, it feels like one of my basic needs.
In your opinion, what’s the most important personal characteristic needed to embark on a career as an artist?
Courage. It’s really hard for an artist to put their work out into the world, regardless of what they create. Most of society is nicer than we think, but when you’re first starting out, criticism can be tough to deal with.
It’s important to put yourself out there, and assess criticism objectively. I’ve met too many talented artists that cut their career short as a result of overly harsh criticism early on. It’s understandable to want to avoid it, but doing that means you’ll never find out how far your talent can go. Sometimes critics are right, and you need to tweak your approach — but many times they aren’t ready for something different and unique. If you love what you do, you should keep practicing.
What advice would you give up and coming abstract artists?
Create a lot of work. Share it because you want to, and don’t worry about your brand, audience, or marketing (when you first start out, anyway). Stressing about the perfect looking career at the beginning will be limiting. Being an artist is about growth, and that comes from consistent practice above all else. Figure out the other parts once you feel like you’ve grown into your work and process.
Oh, and start an email list early. 🙂
Do you have any favourite podcasts or books that you love and that have contributed to your journey as an artist?
I love anything about the New York school of abstract artists. Ninth Street Women is one of my favourite books. It’s about the women who pioneered abstract expressionism, and it is named after the Ninth Street Show in 1951. Most of the artists didn’t sell anything, and although I’m sure they would have appreciated the sales since they were all fairly low income, it wasn’t about the sales. It was about bring something new and different to the world, about colouring outside the lines of what art was at the time, and it helped establish post-War New York City as an art hub that rivalled Paris.
These women end up being some of the most important artists in history, and I’ve learned lot of lessons from not just studying their work, but also learning about their lives.
What’s your most fulfilling and enjoyable experience as an artist so far?
The most fulfilling experiences are getting to know my collectors. I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people who have a personal connection to my work, and talking to them is one of the most fulfilling parts of this job.
Where do you see yourself and your art in 5 years?
I’m looking forward to traveling abroad at several art residencies, once traveling abroad is a bit more stable of course. I’m curious to see how new environments influence the work.