Drawn to the Edge

Forward - Robert Christie

It difficult to come up with a definitive stylistic description of Pat Service's work. Like Pat herself, it crosses many borders. As Charles Killam so aptly describes in his accompanying essay, Pat draws on various sources and combines them with her own perspective and touch to make something altogether unique. A while ago I might have suggested that her work reflected a kind of sophisticated naivety but I can't say that now. There is nothing naive about her work at all. If there is a sense of naivety, it comes from her inability to emulate others and a rather wonderfully eccentric response to what she sees around her.

Pat has her influences but, fortunately, they are not of the art school variety. Essentially she is self-taught as an artist and her influences are more of attitude than of manner. Her sophistication comes from her taste, her ability to see good art and more importantly, her willingness to exercise her eye.

Typical of many good artists, Pat's work started to mature after she accepted what she was good at. In the early 1980's she flirted with non-objective abstraction but lurking in the background was her inherent interest in responding to nature. Expression will always override issue and Pat's affinity for a traditional subject has allowed for a slow but steady evolution of expressive force. There is nothing fancy about her paintings. She has no tricks up her sleeve and there is no instant gratification for the viewer. At first glance the paintings may even seem simple. But they are startlingly simple and they are memorable. Pat does not record what she sees, she just takes nature as a starting point. Her ability to compose with unusual layouts makes the ordinary seem special. What might appear austere and empty in nature becomes alive and full with her subtle play of dense clusters against deceptively plain areas. 

Perhaps the most important factor in Pat's work, and the one most likely to be overlooked by the casual viewer, is the energy contained within it. Pat is one of the most diligent painters that I know. Not only does she work hard but she also looks hard at her paintings. She tunes them and she brings them into focus. Long after we are gone, Pat's paintings will still he around.

Robert Christie 1992

© the author (used with permission)