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Tracy Simpson


To be honest, my attention span is short and I am pulled in a dozen different directions a week, constantly mentally testing out whether I want to spend the requisite hours needed to make a print based on one idea or another. Maybe this is because I have only a few hours a week to make art or maybe it is because I am essentially undisciplined. Whatever the cause, I rarely have the patience to make an obviously coherent series of prints. But really, there are themes I come back to over and over; time, layers, loss, injustice, endurance, what we show others, what we keep from others, what we show ourselves, what we keep from ourselves. Sometimes these themes show up in recognizable, if simply rendered, objects, and sometimes they are represented obliquely.  It just depends.


Despite all this thematic flitting (flailing?), or maybe because of it, I am really a pretty rule governed person who needs anchors.  My first anchor is a precisely penciled grid that covers the entire field. Every piece starts this way. The other anchor is that the marks placed on the paper have to be put there via a potato. I use the smooth face of cut Russet potatoes to place acrylic paint on paper, typically after making an impression from textured fabric, a dried leaf or flower, or debris I find in the street. The resulting ghost image of that thing is then transferred to cotton paper. Lines not conforming to the grid, like curves or diagonals, are made with paper stencils to mask the edges. Most of the time I cut a simple geometric shape to specific measurements from a potato and use it (or its cousins once it has degraded too much to use) to make several hundred passes. I typically layer the stamped shapes to create a sense of depth and to play with the ways colors behave when over or under one another.

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