Kristin Teixeira is a New York based artist from Massachusetts creating abstract and minimalist colourful oil paintings mixed with collage, sketches and writings as a means to poetically document and capture memories. Her pieces are intimate and familiar yet transcendent. We had a chat with Kristin to find out more about her work, how she perceives colours and how she brings up her day.
Can you tell us about how you began to paint and the evolution of your work? How did you end up doing what you do today?
Ever since I was young I wanted to be an artist. At 9 years old I dressed up as a painter with a cardboard palette and a purple beret for ‘career day’ at school. I was always playing with color. I went to MassArt, an art university in Boston. There I started off investigating the basics – still lives, portraits, painting from life – guided by a professor teaching and critiquing me. The following year we were given a studio and told to just go for it – paint anything. I had no idea what to make a painting about since the previous year I had been given assignments. So, I turned to my sketchbooks and found trends revolving around the passage of time and memory. I started slowly turning to abstraction, using it as a format to preserve intangible moments from my past. I found I could express the essence of a memory strictly through color and started exploring ways of laying these colors on a surface.
Walk us through one of your days in your studio. How does the process of your work come about?
I start off with a coffee and a to-do list. I'm lucky enough these days to be very busy with projects either with my gallery or outside commissions. I typically try to get emails out of the way first (there is a whole lot of time designated to being a business person as an artist – it's not all creative time). I then turn to painting projects that I have to get done. This usually serves as a warm up. By nighttime I'm ready to attack a project that is more significant. I've been working on recreating a space where I lived in Sausalito, CA, on a magical house boat. I've been painting bits and pieces – objects, plant life, what I saw out my window – building an installation of what was my home for two months. I have found that when I'm in a place presently I am unable to process what surrounds me until I leave. Now that I'm back in New York my time on the house boat has become a memory which drives me to analyze it and preserve it with paint. I set myself up with projects like this that are investigations. Presenting myself with an idea and then beating it until there is nothing left for me to visit. I always need to make sure I pay homage to a memory so that I know I can move forward from it. I work on a project like this until I’m exhausted. Wake up and repeat.
You’ve mentioned that you paint to remember and in your words “this process preserves memories as tangible maps”. Can you elaborate on that?
Painting is a way for me to pay tribute to the past. Most hours of the day I am distracted by memories. My mind does not rest. When I paint I am infiltrated with thoughts and, in a way, I time travel to specific points in time. I've learned that a way for me to empty my mind is to write down these memories and confront them with color. Once I make a painting about a specific memory it can rest in color. I know that it has been accounted for and it won't disrupt me as much. I also find peace in knowing that the memory is not lost. I can always revisit it through the colors I lay down. I try to achieve this for others as well. People share their stories with me and I can translate the moment into an abstract map that they can step inside of and relive.
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Could you speak about how you play with the different elements of color?
Certain colors come to mind when I interact with a person or a place. It is hard to define – synesthesia; a condition where senses of touch, sound, taste overlap, touch upon the way I process interactions. I use color to tell stories. For example, if I tell the story of a person I might call upon physical colors: hair color, wardrobe, but I also try to tell the color of their personality – their particular saturation, or subtle shifts in colors that define them. I find it easier to tell the story of someone I've known for about a month – getting to know their story and personality. It becomes much more complicated when I know the person intimately. There are too many layers of color for one painting. The same goes for place but, place can be easier to define because there are more physical references I can make.
It seems that residencies have an important role in your work, but at the same time you have your studio in Brooklyn. Could you speak about the relation between the location you are and your paintings?
After school I moved around a lot, never really planning more than 5 months ahead. I found inspiration in being in new places. Constant change kept me stimulated and passionate about preserving memories. New York has been the longest I've lived in one place since I was in school but, I’m always coming and going. I leave in order to gather materiel to paint about, sometimes to visit a new place sometimes to attend a residency. Many artists consider residencies to be a place to get work done. For me, I attend in order to gather stories. I meet new people, listen, gather data, and take notes on my surroundings. I write a lot when I'm away making color notes that I can bring back to New York where I can wring out all that I've collected. The clock in NY ticks fast and sometimes can be overwhelming so I feel lucky to be able to leave it at times - slow my pace and gather color. Then I can come back to the city, ride the wave, and let all that I've collected flow out on to paper.
Can you speak about working in series with paintings?
I set myself up with projects that I can revisit and analyze until I know I've investigated every part of it. Series allow me to tell a complete story. I often work in the form of timelines, each painting telling of an individual story but, when seen all at once form the complete painting. I find interest in layers of history and color patterns help me visualize movement through time.
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Are you influenced by any artists in particular?
The use of color of David Hockney, Richard Diebenkorn, Euan Uglow, early Stuart Davis. The concepts behind Spencer Finch, Klaus Rinke, Agnes Martin.
What are you working on at the moment?
The story of a houseboat. 
What’s next?
I have a short residency coming up in downtown Manhattan. I’ll be collecting the colors of people of New York. I plan to make a memory box for people to leave their favorite stories with me. I’ll use them as inspiration to make paintings and help others preserve their own memories.
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