“I was giving up the concept of a good painter being able to paint perfect realistic paintings.”
A Unique Path: From Law to Art
Petra Schott is a German abstract painter who first discovered her passion for painting in her twenties, while pursuing a law degree. The captivating process of creating with colors, shapes, and lines allowed Schott to delve into the semi-conscious realms of form and hue. As her appreciation for painting grew, she chose to study fine arts upon completing her legal education.
Simultaneously serving as a judge and lawyer, Schott dedicated her spare time to refining her artistic talents in her home studio. She began participating in exhibitions during the 1990s, showcasing her unique works. In 2015, she made the bold decision to leave her legal career behind and fully immerse herself in her artistry. Securing an external studio space, Schott has since devoted her days to the exploration and celebration of her artistic pursuits.
Schott’s background as a judge and lawyer contributed to her keen sense of balance in her artistic endeavors, as it challenged the left hemisphere of her brain and fostered a desire to engage the right hemisphere through her paintings. Her creative process can be described as primarily intuitive, characterized by its playful, experimental, and swift nature that allows her to immerse herself in the artistic flow. As her work progresses, Schott intentionally employs her knowledge to select specific elements and colors, blending her innate artistic intuition with conscious decision-making.
The Expressive Language of Petra Schott
The art of Petra Schott emanates a potent blend of emotions, visions, and memories, as it navigates the realms of figurative abstraction, drawing inspiration from Abstract Expressionism as well as gestural painting and Informel. Schott explores various mediums, including paper and smaller canvases, which facilitate a more intimate creative process akin to sketching, resulting in a visual diary of her artistic journey.
However, the artist primarily utilizes large canvases to harness the full extent of her expressive capabilities and allow for unrestrained brush movements. These expansive surfaces emphasize the power of colors in an unparalleled manner, evoking an intuitive, direct, and engaging visual dialogue with the viewer’s subconscious. Consequently, Schott’s paintings evolve in the moment, requiring her to mentally prepare and relinquish preconceived notions to make room for inspiration. Each piece represents a new beginning, a venture into the unknown, where the possibility of beauty may emerge or remain elusive. Schott acknowledges the courage required to destroy, restart, and ultimately discover her authentic expression.
At present, Schott favors oil paints due to their rich texture, organic quality, and depth. As a traditional medium that has been utilized for centuries, oil paint maintains an enduring connection to the past. Moreover, the artist often customizes her canvas to meet her specific needs, selecting raw linen, stretching it over stretcher bars, and preparing the surface with Gesso before applying the initial layers of paint. This meticulous process ensures that the oil colors’ inherent naturalness remains unaltered by mechanically primed linen, while the irregularities of a handmade primer accentuate the organic nature of the paint.
With a career spanning over three decades, Schott’s artistic expression has inevitably evolved over time. She has traversed through phases of more figurative work, later gravitating toward abstract expression. Additionally, shifts in content, materials, and the dimensions of her paintings reflect the dynamic nature of her artistic journey.
Exploring Personal Essence and Evolving Beauty
Petra Schott initially embarked on her artistic journey with a desire to represent her surroundings through painting, infusing her personal perspective into the colors, shapes, and perspectives she observed. However, she soon realized that abstract painting offered a greater opportunity to imbue her work with her own essence. This transition represented a significant shift, as Schott abandoned the notion that a skilled painter must be capable of producing perfectly realistic renderings.
Over time, Schott’s paintings have evolved to become more nuanced and layered, with an increased sense of risk and deconstruction interwoven throughout her compositions. Her pursuit of beauty has not wavered, although her understanding of beauty has transformed. For Schott, beauty now encompasses a more fragile quality, characterized by fleeting moments of balance or even the absence of balance. Today, she defines beauty as a coherent painterly expression of her experiences and emotions as a female artist in contemporary times. Schott aspires to continue refining her artistic expression, exploring the full spectrum of possibilities in various directions.
Schott’s sources of inspiration are diverse, ranging from fellow artists and their works to simple situations in her everyday life. She admires the work of artists such as Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell, Marlene Dumas, and Elisabeth Cummings, and credits a four-year masterclass with renowned painter Leiko Ikemura as a significant influence. Nature also serves as a muse for Schott, inspiring her to create series based on elemental themes such as air, water, and soil, as well as other nature-related subjects. Schott has also developed a series on paper titled “Introspection” and another called “Women, Girls, and I,” featuring abstract female portraits on small formats.
Even ordinary situations can spark Schott’s creativity. For example, upon studying a photograph in a newspaper, she might find the image gradually transforming into an abstract composition as she gazes at it. These moments occur when Schott is receptive to the world around her, immersing herself in a vibrant universe of colors, shapes, and lines.
The Delicate Balance of Risk and Completion in Painting
In the intricate process of painting, Petra Schott frequently encounters a critical juncture at which the artwork has reached an appealing stage, yet remains incomplete. This precipice often gives rise to hesitation and a sense of trepidation, as the artist grapples with the potential of ruining the piece. Occasionally, Schott may pause for weeks, allowing her to regain sufficient perspective and courage to undertake a daring, and at times aggressive, intervention. When successful, this approach paves the way for the painting’s ultimate completion.
Schott cherishes her studio, located a short distance from her residence. This separation enables her to immerse herself fully in the creative process, leaving behind distractions from her everyday life. Upon entering the studio, the artist delights in activating music, surveying her surroundings, and determining which piece requires her attention. As oil paintings necessitate time to dry, Schott consistently juggles multiple works in progress. In essence, her ideal workspace is a solitary haven, ample in size to accommodate drying artwork and sufficient storage for her completed pieces.
Reflecting on her body of work, Schott expresses particular affection for her 2022 series, “Summer Talk.” The diverse collection of paintings within this series embodies various aspects of summer, evoking feelings of warmth, abundance, and leisure. Equally beloved is her “Magical Walks” series, which draws inspiration from her personal experiences of hiking and extended strolls. For Schott, walking serves as a profound means of connecting with nature, embracing the enchantment of flora, and fostering a sense of harmony with her surroundings.