Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Four Essential Qualities of Painting: Color

One of my undergraduate painting instructors told me that "painting is all about color."   She was quite angry at me.   As an ambitious young freshmen, I had completed a fairly respectable body of 5-6 large-ish paintings ranging in size from 3-5 feet during the Spring semester of intermediate painting.  Like many college art students, I had been drawing as long as I could remember and painting was quite new to me.   Charcoal was new as well but, two semesters in, I was in love.   My painting process at the time involved drawing with charcoal on raw canvas and rubbing it out until everything was close to perfect.   Then I coated it all with gesso, more drawing, and began building up thin layers of color acrylic washes on top.   As colorized drawings, they were quite something, but apparently they were not paintings.   My instructor's intense frustration left her mantra with me forever, even if I was unable to comprehend its meaning.   She also forbade me from taking any more drawing courses for at least a semester, which was for the best. 

From the perspective of years, craft, and my own inability to articulate my frustrations with students, I understand more completely.  While this element may be present in any visual art form, color's ready and fluid application is a key strength of paint.   To use paint and not employ it is a drastic self- restriction.   Trained artists can employ this strategy to effect, but it usually reflects timidity in students.   Although there is merit to the idea of chromophobia, I've found the practical reason students avoid color is inexperience.    My anecdotal guarantee is that if students start using a lot of color in their work, their peers will compliment them on it regardless.   They will be qualified as a "strong colorist"  simply because they are using it, and most everyone else is not.  Of course to the critic, successful use of color is another thing entirely.   A famous teacher once said it takes 1000 drawings to make one good one, and the same is true with painting.   Except the lay world is more forgiving.    In many people's homes you can see a lot of color, regardless of taste or sophistication.  Home stores stock a lot more than beige, so we may consider a monetary incentive to use color.  My other undergraduate professor, equally as wise, liked to say, "I'm completely comfortable with someone paying me ten thousand dollars for a painting just because it matches their couch." 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

June Evening

22 x 18 inches
oil on canvas

This one has been in the studio for over a year.   The imagined portraits always take the longest time to complete.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017


"Pitch," 5 x 5 inches, oil, acrylic, and newspaper

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Blur

"February Blur," 5 x 5 inches, oil and acrylic on paper

Friday, January 20, 2017

Warm Chill

"Warm Chill," 5 x 5 inches, oil and acrylic on paper

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Without Words

"Without Words," 5 x 5 inches, oil and acrylic on paper

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Blue Girl

"The Blue Girl," 5 x 5 inches, oil and acrylic on paper