riley waite in playing with fire exhibit in orange county california makes portraits with soot and fire

Currently, I am working on a series of paintings about my tumultuous upbringing in two different cultures: Ireland and California. Having been born in California and raised in Ireland, I never felt I  had a place  that I fit in, always feeling a split between the two, and reluctantly travelling to both on a yearly basis, I’ve never truly found what ‘home’ is, whether it be with  people, in a specific place or memory. My current painting series explores these issues and looks for a conclusion if any. My subject matter includes portraits and scenes of my friends and family from both cultures with the goal to seamlessly incorporate the two thereby reconciling the differences between them.


My process involves using photos and sketches taken from Ireland and California and collaging them together into a carefully constructed composition. The scenes depicted have never occurred in real life, but rather are loose representations from my memory which form an ambiguous moment in time that is personal to me. These imaginary scenes use motifs and imagery such as magpies, bare trees, hooded figures and gloomy atmosphere because they play a huge role in my view of Ireland. 


By painting representational figures in atmospheric settings, I hope to connect to the genre of classical Romanticism. I want to create open contemporary narratives that contain edgy sub-narratives informed by the clashing cultures of Ireland and California. 

Artist Statement

San Francisco, California    |    RileyWaite@Gmail.com    |    (949) 680 8130

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