Todd Chalk's artistry begins with close observation, and close observation means an ability to differentiate between the essential and the incidental: between the enduring forms of things and their particular manifestations. And the word "forms" used here connotes not merely shapes but colors and, in some cases, textures as well. Todd's compositions usually consist of overlapping planes which substitute for spatial recession, giving the work depth and dimension. In some of her paintings, the application of gauze-like substances or collaged elements seems almost to put the work in the category of low relief. But for Todd, composition always begins with an act of observation, and observation begins with an act of decomposition.
The subtlety of Todd's method might best be described by a comparison of two works in this exhibit. Although separate works, "Land Forms" and "Sea Forms"are clearly pendent; they might almost be viewed as two halves of a diptych. The paintings are the same size. They share the same palette of lush browns, siennas, umbers and blues in virtually the same tonalities. They also share the same compositional structure of interlocking panels. Yet there is no mistaking which is which. In "Land Forms," the earthen browns and reds seem to predominate, while in "Sea Forms" it is the blues. In "Land Forms," the panels give the work a vertical thrust compared to the horizontal thrust of "Sea Forms." But it is in the whites, particularly, that we see the difference. In "Land Forms," the white paint is applied in small blocks and contributes to the work's overall sense of solidity. But in "Sea Forms," the whites are dotted throughout or appear as diaphanous layers, conveying a sense of froth-like evanescence. "Land Forms" clings steadfastly to its support and remains within its boundaries, while in "Sea Forms," the paint is in motion and threatens to overflow the edges.
An Ohio native, Todd received her B.F.A. and her M.F.A. from the University of Buffalo. She has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, and she is adept in both acrylic and watercolor media.