Rebecca ShortleSan Francisco, CA
My fascination with the natural world and its laws, forces, patterns, and phenomena has long been a driving force in my life. I have pursued it academically in research science, artistically in painting and sculpture, casually in nonfiction reading and in natural observation, and professionally in chemical and biotech patent law. My years of formal and informal study provide me with a lens through which I view the world; I cannot see shapes and patterns in nature without considering the forces from which they resulted, or without noting ratios and patterns universal to living and non-living things. This fascination informs the subject matter of my paintings as well as the process.
I create paintings on a horizontal plane, building up rich semi-transparent surfaces over weeks or months by pouring, dripping and brushing on layers of acrylic paint and ink mixtures. Each layer is primarily acrylic medium with very little pigment, and the successive layering results in paintings with a luminous watery depth. I mix and layer different acrylic mediums, each having their own unique properties affecting opacity, reflectiveness, texture, and flexibility. Wet acrylic mediums are also bluish and opaque, not showing their true color and final transparency until dried. Each layer is an experiment, frequently yielding unexpected colors, textures, and optical properties. Unanticipated results direct the evolution of my paintings.
The process results in paintings that mimic the effect of looking down through a microscope or studying the earth and water at your feet rather than at the horizon. Universal patterns, shapes, ratios, and life processes seen at the micro and macroscopic levels are depicted, and the abstract pieces evoke images of microscopic life, underwater landscapes, and biological growth and reproduction. The paintings reward a closer look with intricate textures, colors and light. Through the process as well as in the finished painting, I recreate my feeling of spending hours contemplating the shape of life under the microscope and the intricate colors and patterns of natural formations under my feet.
Art and science are Rebecca’s passions. She has attended art school at San Francisco Art Institute and Parsons Paris as well as graduate school in chemistry and biophysics, and continues to pursue both interests professionally. Her fascination with science has led her full circle back to her passion for art, where it informs her work. Shapes, patterns and processes of the natural world inspire her paintings; by layering acrylic mediums that have differing optical properties, she evokes images of microscopic worlds seen through luminous watery depths. Raised in Santa Barbara, Rebecca now lives and paints in San Francisco.