Glimpsing the spark of an artist truly at play, freed from the concerns of life and industry, is rare and always has been. The markets and systems supporting all artistic fields generally encourage repetition, predetermination and recognizable styles and motifs easily understood by an audience.

Following a return to oil painting after more than ten years of creating with found materials and fabrics, Blair Saxon-Hill took an unexpected turn and unknowingly threw herself into a frenetic exercise in creative play.

The artist explicitly considered all of her new oil paintings to be studies and practice for future works to be made at a larger scale. This setting of a private intention combined with working at a humble scale unconsciously charged the paintings with the same loose, feverish energy of a sketch. Saxon-Hill embraced unforeseen opportunities emerging from the canvas rather than starting with predetermined plans, allowing each work to evolve organically with her intuition guiding the way. The finished works are embedded with a unique poetic quality that feels casual, magic and ephemeral.

Even while embracing the rhythm of the moment and letting her subconscious lead, several central subjects emerged– Lonesome spirits drifting through time surfaced, queens (both drag and royal) emerged posing in front of trippy wallpaper, dogs came to keep the artist company (Saxon-Hill had just adopted a dog), and wilting flowers left far too long in the studio were documented with a perfect impressionist looseness. Some of the works are achingly simple, and others have been embellished with patterns or depictions of flowing energy. A diverse collection of unconventional, empathetic, and many times queer characters came into focus, evoking feelings of tender engagements and wistful longing. The sense of yearning is palpable, but the prevailing vibe is full of hope and reflects an appreciation for life and the connections it presents.

Blair Saxon-Hill (b. 1979, Eugene, OR) lives and works in Portland, OR and has been awarded fellowships from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Oregon Arts Commission, and the Ford Family Foundation. Her work has been exhibited at the New Museum Triennial, NYC; Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles; Pace Prints, NYC; JOAN, Los Angeles; VENUS Over Los Angeles and The Hallie Ford Museum.