Q&A with Colleen Maloney

A conversation between Colleen Maloney and Peggy Murphy on the topic of Maloney’s current show, Oh my Gouache.

Close to Home, 4″ x 24″, cut paper collage

PM: This current show  has a series of pieces with strong, bold shapes that have much less detail than some of your other work.  You have written that a lack of studio space played into this current work but was there any other visual influence for this simplicity?  Do you see this as a new direction or influence for future work?

CM: After I finish producing art for my current exhibit I will step back from it. I’ll let new ideas percolate while I take photos, look, collect and read for the upcoming show. I will soak things in and eventually a plan will evolve for my next body of work. But every show is a reaction to the last one. Oh My Gouache is an effort to leave more open space and focus on strong compositions by simplifying the colors and shapes. I wanted to give the viewer room to breathe

PM: You have been a practicing artist for many years.  How has the worked evolved? If people saw a body of your work over the last 6 years could they see a common thread? 

CM:The common thread would be that my work is happy. I’m not sure why that is because it is unintentional. It might be that I do it to make myself happy and somehow that transfers to the art. My ultimate goal is to make the viewer happy. 

The other common thread is that I challenge myself to make each show different–different themes, different media, different subjects. Maybe this is a reaction to the stability in my life. I’ve been married for 30 years, lived at the same address for 46 years and worked as a designer for 31 years. But when it comes to art I need to experience the adventure of trying something entirely new.

PM: Who are some of the artists who influence your work?   Was there  any  defining  art or experience that greatly influenced your work?

CM:Matisse, Picasso, Bonnard, David Hockney, Nancy Gruskin.

One of my earliest memories of falling in love with a work of art was with my Mom. She took me to a small show done by “commercial artist” in Boise, Idaho. I was in the 7th grade. The artists had graduated from Art Center, one of the premier schools for designers and illustrators at the time. I still remember the illustration of a dove, painted in gouache (ironically). It captured my fancy and set me in motion to pursue an art career.

PM:Your beautiful accordion book, Close to Home, uses cut paper collage.  Can you describe your process?  

CM:Like many artists, I collect papers and rarely throw anything away. So I pulled from some of that stash. I also created a palette of colors by painting large sheets with gouache paint—the more colors, the better. For Close to Home I was confined to home during the first few months of Covid. My iPhone and I toured our yard. After editing all the photos down to 4 pictures, I printed them out to match the size of the accordion book. Then I matched my painted papers to the photos. I cut the shapes without drawing them first so everything has an unpolished look. I put all the shapes in place, then took a photo for reference. The last step was pasting the papers with an archival glue stick. It was like assembling a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces don’t quite fit together.