To me, painting is at once irrational and structured, while the final image remains unknown. I am very conscious of my intentions in a painting. My approach is deliberate and focused, because the painting requires my total concentration. The actual work process does not end until the image appears. I have some working rules for the construction of the painting, but I make very few plans about how the painting should look. In the early phase, it is the size of the canvas and the basic colour that are most important. I divide my motifs into tableaux and impressions. Then I build up a skeleton in the form of one or more drawings on the canvas. This gives me free hands during the process. My sources of inspiration are my travels, Arabic ornaments, calligraphic signs and symbols, cave paintings, Arabic rugs, embroideries, graffiti, natural abstractions in the form of leaves in trees and interwoven branches, fragments of crumbling walls, for instance in Greece, Venice and Turkey. I have a strong need to step into my own mental space and remain there while working my way into something at the start of the painting process. Perhaps this is because I always see so much.
I collect ceramics, textiles from other countries purchased on our many journeys, rugs from Afghanistan, tobacco pouches, masks from Africa and New Guinea, embroideries from Uzbekistan. I create tableaux and ensembles in my studio and my home, study my many books on ethnic art from Indonesia, Australia and Greece. In order to work, I need to be surrounded by the things I have collected and love, by collages of art – and by film clips and colour samples on my studio wall. I usually work on my canvases on the floor from all four sides in order to achieve a compositional whole. The colour is added in several layers, sections are erased, patterns and drawings are scratched into the paint. I use palette knives, paintbrushes and rags until I have given the painting some kind of structure. For me, the finished painting is like a woven rug, a pictorial narrative consisting of many details. But I also like being involved in the communicative aspects of art. Part of my working day is spent on PR work, planning and organising exhibitions. Websites need to be created, new paintings need to be photographed, CVs need updating, a new art catalogue needs planning with the photographer and the publisher. And a key element is my important collaboration with companies on decorating projects and exhibitions.
— Christel Maria Nolle, August 2003