The Magic of Color with Dorothy Fagan
Abstract Expressionism, popular in Western art since the 1940’s and 50’s, is characterized by its bold, intuitive mark-making and its free-form spatial composition. The style is developed by breaking expectations of traditional “technique”, leaning into color and the character of its materials to evoke raw energy and emotion. Across her expansive career as a working artist, Dorothy Fagan has transcribed canvases with inner and outer landscapes, folding viewers into expressionistic fields of color. Transforming interiors from home spaces to healthcare facilities, Fagan’s work is a healing balm to be felt and experienced. She is an Abstract Expressionist to the core.
Fagan began her artistic journey in childhood, beginning with chalk pastels and then learning to sew, later earning a degree in Printmaking. She spent 20 years creating large-scale soft pastel work, and the graphic impact of those materials continues to influence her compositions in paint and textile. In her process, drawn-line elements form an underpainting, arrived at through a kind of channeling process, like the automatic writing used famously by Surrealists, as well as contemporary creatives and psychologists. Her expressionistic style is inspired by landscape and energy, by the vibrational field that color inherently creates. She speaks of tending her mother’s bedside through her journey with cancer, “drawing colors from Mother Earth’s healing energies” as she painted plein air in gardens, and along the coastal landscape of her home. She remarks on her own trauma and healing experience, expressing that paint and canvas offer her a “visceral kind of peace that is mirrored in the body, however fleeting.” It is this type of raw gift exchange she offers to her viewers, the reflection of authentic expression, a mirror of their own.
Fagan says, “There’s almost no way of knowing people unless it’s through my paintbrush.” This speaks volumes to the depth of experience that she brings to her and her own work, then her work and the viewer. There is no truth to represent without a continued, deep formal and psychological investigation. Fagan’s expressionistic style comes from a creative process that’s devotional, cultivated through subtle repetition and awareness. The day we speak, it is solstice, and she remarks on the day as one of subtlety, the most internalized day of the year, an ideal time to refine the balance of warm and cool, light and shadow within her works-in-progress. This fine attunement to process and nature supports the artist’s genuine resolution to distill an ineffable experience into aesthetic form, offering viewers a witnessing and recognition of their spiritual-emotional life. In an age where art has expanded to encompass everything from AI to social practice, the continued popularity of Fagan’s approach stands strong in its dual purpose of catharsis and translation, that at its core, art is meant to get to the heart of emotion.
In Dorothy Fagain’s work, colors are taken in as vibration and forms subconsciously invoke feelings without the need for translation. Her abstract style is accessible and works organically with its environment in a wide range of settings. Fagan speaks of “embracing people with the colors of the light, taking the spectrum, pulling it apart, uplifting the whole space.” Many of her pieces serve as a visual respite in healthcare settings. Earthy colors that reflect the lower chakras help bring us back into our bodies in a subtle way, while blue adds hope and spiritual connection.
Fagan is a prolific artist, working with a small team to maintain a high resolution database of every work finished. When working with clients and art consultants, Fagan continues to tap in intuitively, making recommendations that suit the overall drive of the mission. High-resolution imaging and new technology allows for paintings to be reproduced in alternative materials. In more recent work, this has expanded into etched metal, featured in a new hospital collaboration scheduled for installation in early 2023.
This past year, Fagan created a series called the “Immersion Collection”. Its intention is to “wrap people in the healing colors of earth, sky, and water, to uplift, soothe, and energize the vibrant connection with our home planet.” The work’s combined colors correlate with chakras, wavelengths of light that harmonize mind, body, and spirit, mixing in the mind’s eye. Moving between color fields and suggestive forms, clouds, leaves, flowers, and trees, there is a quality of emergence from the depicted environment that Fagan says, “engages us as earth healers, while healing ourselves as well.” Fagan’s studio is actively seeking collaboration for the further development of this collection. You can reach out to the studio with ideas at: https://www.dorothyfagan.com/trade
As the environment has a profound impact on human health and well-being, that well-being depends on the recognition of emotion and its acceptance within the community. Whether her art is enriching a workplace or providing a meditative visual experience in a home or hospital, Fagan’s large-scale images connect viewers with an emotional experience through color, texture, gesture, and the space between forms. With practice and contemplation and a sincere commitment, Fagan continually uplifts the nature of experience, a desire to heal the self and landscape. Her illuminating, immersive canvases help bring lightness into being.