Pentimento refers to visible traces of earlier paintings underneath a final painting. Sometimes these earlier layers are visible because the top paint has become more transparent over time. Sometimes earlier layers are seen with x-rays or other imaging. But always it refers to a part of the painting that the artist later covered up. With this series, I exposed the earlier layers myself, and had some surprises along the way. I don’t always remember every stage of a painting, and I often paint over completed paintings with something completely different. Seeing the choices I had previously made has me thinking about the sorts of choices I now make with my work. But there’s also an analogy to other sorts of histories in my life: people who have come and gone, things I’ve done that are now in my past, those loved ones who I miss every day. An alternate title for this series was Requiem, and they are, in a way, requiems to some sort of past.

I showed this series at the exhibition Passages: Susana Arias and Barbara Downs at Curated by the Sea art gallery, June 24-August 19, 2023.