Lime green washes bleed into soft yellow, pink, grey, and baby blue in this wet-in-wet painting by Milly Ristvedt. Action Painting, a term coined by the art critic Harold Rosenberg in 1952, described the dynamic and bodily gestures of the Abstract Expressionist painters Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Willem De Kooning. Ristvedt's wet-in-wet style is action painting, but it is also meditative, immersive, and demands substantial advance preparation. A Deep Breath demonstrates the ethereal and vivid colour and formal relationships Ristvedt can achieve while deploying this method of controlled spontaneity.
Milly Ristvedt (b. 1942, Kimberley, BC) MA, RCA, began her career in Toronto in 1964 after studies with Takao Tanabe and Roy Kiyooka at the Vancouver School of Art. Ristvedt credits Tanabe with helping her refine her ability to see in first year composition, and Roy Kiyooka as her most important educational influence. Kiyooka introduced Ristvedt to the paintings of contemporary artists such as Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella, and Morris Louis who were working in series. This altered Ristvedt's approach to production in the early years. However, while Ristvedt admires the discipline of seriality she prefers to set her parameters after the fact thus allowing exciting and unexpected changes to reveal themselves through the course of painting.
At 24, her work was included in the Centennial Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario and featured at the National Gallery of Canada. She was chosen for prestigious exhibitions in Winnipeg, Paris, and Lausanne. By 1969, Ristvedt was painting large canvases, sharing a studio with Jack Bush, and showing with the Carmen Lamanna Gallery. That same year, Barry Lord observed in Art in America that Ristvedt's paintings were "…more insistent than Bush, more consciously structured than Molinari."