Tracy Rocca

The goal of my work is to create a place where the mind can rest.

The imagery I use arises from, first, consistent observation and, second, a conscious effort to slow down. When I find colors or forms that inspire me to pause and look, I document them with a camera. I find inspiration anywhere from wild blossoms I see on walks to the grocery store, to leaves turning in the Manzano Mountains outside Albuquerque.

The use of instantaneous digital tools in my everyday life makes me want to find a slower, gradual, more contemplative painting process that reasserts the value of the human hand. I work every morning in natural light using traditional painting materials, walnut oils and mongoose brushes, to apply thin glazes of color that I blend and blur into soft transitions with each additional layer. By blurring the details I create a window into an unspecified yet familiar environment. Ultimately a single point of focus or light emerges from within the paintings, creating the enveloping sense of meditative focus that characterizes my compositions.

Rocca was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She moved often while growing up, spending time in Spokane, Washington; Walnut Creek, California; Danbury, Connecticut; and Seattle, Washington, where she attended college. Her memories from each of these places—cherry blossoms that bloomed in the spring outside her window in Walnut Creek, the multicolored fall leaves in her yard in Connecticut, and the blue grays and wet greens from rainy winters in Seattle—all shaped the imagery, subject matter and palettes that she uses in her current work.
Rocca studied advertising at the University of Washington, but painting and design were always central in her life. Following her recovery from a serious illness, Rocca became more interested in painting as an alternative to digital tools— one that reasserted the value of the human hand and produced opportunities for contemplation. As a painter, Rocca is largely self-taught. While working for a Bay Area design firm in 1999, she enrolled in continuing education courses at the California College of the Arts, where her studio explorations with paint, alkyd mediums and blurred photographic images led to her first body of work.
Her process of composing involves observing qualities in her surrounding landscape, such as the leaves of the Manzano Mountains or backyard blossoms. Sometimes spontaneously, other times after numerous visits, she uses photography to capture the micro and macro view of the landscape. The photographs are then used as both a record of light and atmosphere, and as a visual reference for her compositions. She frequently alters them with digital tools to remove specific details, emphasizing their abstract qualities. These abstractions of natural elements like leaves, flowers and landscapes create a window into what she calls “an unspecified, yet familiar environment.”
In the studio, Rocca paints every morning using natural light and traditional materials—oil paint, walnut oil medium and mongoose brushes. She enhances the abstract color and formal qualities in her hybrid imagery by applying thin glazes of color that blend and blur with each additional layer. Ultimately a single point of focus emerges from within her paintings, creating the enveloping sense of meditative focus that characterizes her luminous compositions.
Since she began exhibiting her work professionally in 2001, Rocca’s work has been shown at the Oakland Art Gallery in Oakland, California; the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art; Platform Gallery in Tucson, Arizona; Winston Wachter Gallery in Seattle and New York; and Karan Ruhlen Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work is in the Microsoft Art Collection in Redmond, Washington, and in the United States Embassy Collection.