Meet

Chloe Fields

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I’m from Chicago and live in Portland, Oregon. In between, I’ve lived in Colorado and San Francisco.
What’s your favorite part of living in Portland?
I’ve always really taken to the pace of Portland. Being from Chicago, I appreciate the city-ness of Portland, but it’s a slower city, and a beautiful city surrounded by nature. My neighborhood, for example, feels like a small town with a main street: we’ve got a sweet coffee shop, a pizza place, a dive bar, a vintage store. In the summertime, you don’t have to drive far to get to a swimming hole. It’s not lost on me that there is both an industry here that can sustain me and plenty of peaceful escapes in any direction.
Do you find that your location strongly influences the direction of your work?
I don’t think that my surroundings directly impact my approach, but they can certainly aid or hamper the process. I’m sensitive to my surroundings, so place means everything to me. Working in my home or the studio, I like things to be organized and clean. If I don’t have to think about tidying, my mind is freer to focus on making. I like decorating my space with things that make me feel good — art, plants, good furniture. And then, just being in Portland, I feel like the city gives you so much permission to make. The weather certainly helps — the gray skies tend to keep you indoors. But also so many people here work hard and have creative pursuits, and it just feels like the way of life here.
You have a certain vocabulary of forms when creating your artwork. What led you to this process and how did you know it was the right one to pursue?
The forms feel innately good to me, and when the composition of those forms is right, it’s just right. It’s not always right. Sometimes I finish a piece and can’t really put my finger on it, but the balance is off, or there’s just something about the form that doesn’t feel true. There’s a fine line between what it is the forms are evocative of, and, like, an alien spaceship. I’m looking to achieve the right mix of play and sophistication. Landing on that balance can be tricky, but obviously very satisfying.
How do the different elements of color come together in your works?
Color just feels like a gut choice. Each piece starts with selecting a couple colors or set of colors. I have fun playing around, even with choices that don’t immediately feel good together. You try things out, and you discover that that purple and that green, they’re friendlier together than you would have thought, and somehow more so with the addition of those other three colors. There are times when I complete a piece, step back, and sense that I’ve just totally violated color theory. But most of the time there is an unexpected harmony that just feels good.
Slant
There’s a fine line between what it is the forms are evocative of, and, like, an alien spaceship. I’m looking to achieve the right mix of play and sophistication. Landing on that balance can be tricky, but obviously very satisfying. — Chloe Fields
Are there any colors you avoid?
For the Hills series, I’ve pretty much kept to the same palette of three dozen or so colors, selecting a smaller palette for each piece from there. From the larger palette, there are so many great color combinations to be made, and I love that across the series there is a consistent color language happening. The brand of pencils I use, they also make a neon green, a bright pink, and a deep red. I like these colors in everyday life, but they are colors that are harder to pair with, or that may upstage other colors. For future series I would like to experiment with new color palettes.
How important is spontaneity in your art?
I talk about my work as a balance of juxtapositions, so representations of color space and blank space, minimalism and maximalism, abstraction and familiarity. Another one is spontaneity and planning. With my Hills series, there is a clear system followed: the lines continue until they meet, and a circle caps it. The spontaneity comes with abrupt color breaks and the unexpected course the line takes. So a degree of spontaneity is important, but it can’t happen without a little bit of planning.
What necessities do you require when making your art ?
Pencils and paper, of course, a good sharpener, stencils and a ruler, an eraser, and a podcast or music.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Anything that takes me out of the process. Broken pencil tips, the need to properly store a piece pretty immediately after it’s complete, setup, cleanup.
Is there something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a mild synesthete — and proud! So colors and numbers have personalities, some words have flavors, that sort of thing. Possibly connected to that is I’m very noise sensitive. A lawn mower or car siren can really throw me off.
Does your sensitivity to colors and numbers inform your titling at all?
Distilling the personality of a piece into a word or a few words feels really prescriptive, and it’s tough because I don’t want to persuade a viewer away from whatever feeling they get from a piece. So if anything, I try to be fairly light with titling.
Slant
The spontaneity comes with abrupt color breaks and the unexpected course the line takes. So a degree of spontaneity is important, but it can’t happen without a little bit of planning. — Chloe Fields
What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?
My work is decidedly open to interpretation. I’m just happy if it stirs something in the viewer. Some may find the forms architectural, or resemblant of a creature or even a toilet (I’ve gotten that before), and some may feel soothed or challenged. Whatever tangible object viewers see or intangible moment they feel, I just hope they spend time and experience it. The ambiguity is the fun of it.
What’s one of your favorite objects you own?
I actually get really attached to my “things.” I’m a creature of habit and a homebody, so I find a lot of comfort in my space and the objects in it. I’ve had the same wallet since I was 18 (though it is totally frayed and I need a new one). So I’m pretty loyal to my systems and my things. That said, I found this really nice rug at a vintage shop in Portland. It’s large and has really beautiful neutral desert colors, and I feel like it does more than just tie the room together. It sparks joy! Which is a simple pleasure.
Did you go to art school?
I didn’t go to art school proper. I went to school for creative writing, and afterwards felt really drawn to letterpress printing for the way you typeset letters and bring them to paper with real ink. I became involved with that in Portland, and at the same time was working as a copyeditor for these well-designed guidebooks. My boss was a designer, and I really admired her, and she started having me help with production and layout. This totally piqued my interest and I started taking classes in graphic design. A lot of the pre-requisites were in art and art history, but mostly I was learning graphic design in a technical way. That was the trajectory, and along the way I picked up many of the principles that have come to inform my artistic perspective.
Slant
Distilling the personality of a piece into a word or a few words feels really prescriptive, and it’s tough because I don’t want to persuade a viewer away from whatever feeling they get from a piece. So if anything, I try to be fairly light with titling. — Chloe Fields
How has your work as a designer influenced your work?
I think about this a lot. I think the sensibilities I apply to each are similar in regards to color, space, balance, scale. But I can apply those things to my art in a purely unfiltered way, without the influence of clients, the digital rendering of a computer, or the pressure of payment and a timeline. There’s much more freedom of expression, but it’s still coming from the same deeply fussy and visual part of me. I had a good foundational set of principles from my design practice entering into my art practice, but being freer with my art has shaken that foundation a little bit and allowed me to embrace the unusual a little more.
Is there any artwork on display in your home/studio? Whose is it?
We have a small eclectic collection and are definitely growing it! We have a few pieces by a friend, a local sculpture and mixed media artist; a Robert Motherwell collage print and a Clifford Ross photograph that my brother gifted me; My partner was really into these Ukrainian oil paintings you could buy for cheap on eBay, so we have some portraits and landscapes; thrift & vintage finds that are really great; and then some of my 8-year-old step-daughter’s works. It’s a delightful hodgepodge.
What’s next for you?
I’m excited to start some new series. I have some sketches happening and can’t wait to see how they form. I’m interested in doing some residencies, finding more space. I’m carrying on my freelance design hustle, so I’m still taking on clients, but I’m hoping to make my art practice a little more equal to that.

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