Renouf’s art encourages the viewer to recreate mentally the process of making her work. In many of her drawings, such as Sounds of Dawn, she covers a sheet of paper with pastel chalk, then incises lines on it with a sharp needle (or sometimes an eraser), revealing the white layer below. The eye is drawn to the central parallelogram, composed of short, not-quite-parallel lines. This form seems to emerge from the surrounding color area. The subtractive nature of her drawings is echoed in her paintings, in which she creates an irregular rhythm of backgrounds lines by removing threads from the canvases before sanding and painting.
Sounds and music are important to the artist, as suggested by the title of this drawing, which evokes the break of day and the sounds associated with awakening life. The repeated lines and intervals in Renouf’s works have been compared to the repetitive sonorities of contemporary composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, whose music the artist often listens to while working.
Signed and dated, verso, l.r.: Edda Renouf 9.9.1976
Several thin coats of blue-gray acrylic paint have been applied to primed linen canvas whose weave was altered by removing threads at more or less regular intervals. She then carefully sanded down the paint to highlight the new texture and make “visible the life within the linen material.” (artist’s statement (2009), http://www.eddarenouf.com/Statement.html)
Although the main subject of Renouf’s paintings is an almost mystical involvement with the physical materials of painting, she has said about her work:
“Some of the sources of inspiration that have become recurrent themes in my work are the four natural elements; time and memory; and that of sound and music. The linen canvas and paper originate from the flax and cotton plants, which depend on the four natural elements; also the acrylic paint and pastels originate from earth. The four elements are in this way directly related to my material’s structure and are thus often used in the titles of the works. For example, the abstract structures revealed to me are metaphors, signs that relate to air, water, earth and fire (sun). The signs appear with the removing and reapplying of threads, and are related to corresponding colors: greys and grey-blues in varying tones are reminiscent of air; cobalt and ultramarine blues of water; siennas, oxide red, oranges and yellow-ochres of the earth, fire and sun....
My works are thus a record of the days, weeks, months and seasons when they were created becoming a journal of my working process, while at the same time their structures and signs relate to thoughts and memory; to music and sound, themes that point to the idea of ‘making the invisible visible’ thereby revealing the movement and hidden presence of wave structures in our universe and again the abstract energy within my materials.” (artist’s statement (2009), http://www.eddarenouf.com/Statement.html)