American painter Pat Steir was highly influenced by Abstract Expressionism and Taoist philosophy. Ancient Chinese painting techniques, most significantly the eighth- and ninth-century “ink-splashing” painters, helped to inform her Waterfall series, which gained her acclaim and recognition in the 1980s, and remain her most sought-after works.
The present work is titled Day Light Waterfall. Creamy white paint drips from a large swath near the top of the canvas, trailing down a pitch-black background in the telltale rivers of pigment Steir is known for. As with all of her Waterfall series, Steir achieves this affect by splashing and dripping her pigments onto the canvas, and then allowing the environment to take over.
She was inspired by the relationship between man and nature, and the concept of allowing elemental forces to actively assist in creating her paintings. She begins the process, and then lets gravity complete the work, the results no longer in her hands. “It’s in praise of circumstance and accident,” she has said. “I’m not trying to express something—I’m looking for something. What I’m looking for doesn’t have a word or a name, so I can look for it forever. And then you can look for it.”