Artist Patssi Valdez Finds Answers on a Painted Canvas

Los Angeles artist Patssi Valdez’s goal in life has always been to be a great painter. Until 1988 though, she worked primarily in other media: performance and conceptual art, photography and installations.

“I have struggled with painting since I was 16,” she says. “I didn’t know how to mix colors, and made mud paintings.”

But in 1988, when she was teaching art to children she had a breakthrough. With the kids, Valdez was free from the pressure of the art world and self-criticism to experiment with color. She was also motivated by David Hockney’s retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Valdez bought canvas and paints, and in eight weeks had a small body of paintings that were shown at the Pico House on Olvera Street. She sold every one of them. A curator from France saw the work, and soon her work was seen in France, Spain and Sweden.


“All of a sudden color made sense to me like it hadn’t before. I felt like a new painter,” she says.

In her recently completed series of 14 paintings on view at Daniel Saxon Gallery on Beverly Boulevard, Valdez combines rich, resonant colors with quirky angles on various interiors to present scenes that vibrate with energy.

“My goal is to keep the paintings alive, to give them a sense of movement,” Valdez says. “I want to evoke a feeling that people just left the room.”

Many of the works depict table settings. The plates are cracked in the painting “Chile & Cafe.” Forks and chairs fly in “Kitchen in Chaos.” Painted in her kitchen during a February storm, it reflects nature’s mood.


“My work is about the use of objects as metaphors. I want to evoke viewers to come to their own conclusions. To look at the world around us from a different perspective. I don’t want to give them all the answers because I don’t have them.”