Homeroom, egg tempera, 17 x 11.
Alabama artist Charles Gatewood is interested in the geometric play of shadows and light and finds school interiors well-suited to his vision. His moody, empty classrooms are familiar to many older viewers, although they come from his imagination and not from actual places. When he first began using classrooms as subject matter Gatewood worked from photographs, but he gradually found himself taking more liberties with the scenes until eventually they came entirely from his mind. He says there are no stories behind these quiet, dark rooms other than what the viewer brings to them. Gatewood studied industrial design in California but has been creating his egg tempera paintings for the past 23 years. Generally recognized as the world’s second-oldest painting medium, egg tempera is used by very few artists today. Gatewood chooses it in part for its smooth, matte finish and subtle color variations. He shows his interiors, as well as nighttime downtown scenes and freeway paintings, at Gallery A in Taos, NM. —BD
Steven DeLair says he began painting his museum interiors by accident back in 1981. While on a visit to New York, he did what thousands of tourists do: He took photographs of the inside of famous museums like the Whitney and the Metropolitan. When he
Figure in Black, oil, 50 x 70.
saw the developed photographs he thought they looked interesting and decided to try painting similar scenes. The subject matter presents him with an artistic challenge “to present design and color and create a compelling image,” DeLair says. Although the resulting paintings may look straightforward, from a technical standpoint they’re actually the most difficult subjects he tackles. He compares getting the paintings within each painting to work well together with blending individual instruments to create an orchestra. DeLair says there isn’t any deep psychological meaning behind his choice of subject matter, “unless it’s something I don’t know about.” Although best known for his museum interiors, the artist also paints street scenes, beaches, and the human figure, among other subjects. After nearly 30 years in Arizona, he has returned to his home state of Nebraska. DeLair is represented by Suzanne Brown Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ; Windsor Gallery, Dania, FL; and The Esther Wells Collection, Laguna Beach, CA.
The Bath, oil, 16 x 12.
There’s something secretive about Marc Whitney’s paintings of unmade beds and light-streaked bathrooms. “I like my paintings to have a peek-a-boo quality,” Whit-ney says. “I have a fascination with certain images, like beds. I suppose it’s because you don’t usually see people’s beds when you go to their homes, and there are so many emotions attached to a bed.” Emo-tions are important to Whitney, who says he wants all of his paintings to have an emotional narrative content. Born and raised in California, Whitney says his artistic family—including several musicians and sculptors—encouraged his interest in art. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and spent several years on the East Coast before moving back to California in the early 1990s. Though he says he’s always on the lookout for new scenes to paint, he frequently returns to the same rooms—including several in his own home—to paint again. It’s something he learned from such masters of interior painting as Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. “Their interiors are always of the same places; they just rearranged the furniture, changed the drapes, or changed the light,” he explains. “It’s amazing how you can make the same space look different with just a few changes.” He is represented by Whitney Gallery and Richard MacDonald Gallery, both in Laguna Beach, CA. —AH
Natalie’s Red Chairs II, oil, 30 x 24.
In 1995, Washington painter Pam Ingalls-Cox went to a friend’s home to housesit while the family was on vacation. The kitchen in the home was reminiscent of one that she remembered from her childhood in Italy, and the warm memory inspired her to paint it. “I’ve been housesitting for different people and painting their spaces ever since then,” Ingalls-Cox says. She adds that she is so taken with her subject matter that she even daydreams about interiors on a regular basis. Her paintings evoke the beauty of the everyday scene in households around the world—a teakettle on the stove, boots by the door, a vase of tulips near an old-fashioned bathtub. “I paint light, mood, and pieces of lives,” she says. “I hope that my paintings will inspire others to look twice at everyday life and see the beauty in their own surroundings.” Ingalls-Cox first studied painting with her father, an artist who founded the art department at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Later she studied with Ron Lukas, Richard Schmid, and Burton Silverman. She travels frequently to Europe and recently completed an artist-in-residency program in Belfast, Ireland. Ingalls-Cox is represented by Roby King Gallery, Port Ludlow, Bainbridge Island, and Poulsbo, WA; Isis on First, Seattle, WA; Long Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; Coda Gallery, Park City, UT; and Merrill-Johnson Gallery,
Denver, CO. —BG
Red Sofa With Deco Rug, oil, 24 x 18.
Ipaint what I see,” R.B. Sprague told Southwest Art in a 1987 interview, “and what attracts me is light and the geometry it illuminates. When I see light on a surface at a particular moment, it makes my fingers itch.” At the time of that interview Sprague’s work was dominated by architectural forms like churches and houses. Lately he has turned his attention to interior spaces, but he is still driven by what he refers to as “a never-ending exploration of proportion and light. I still have the same interest, regardless of subject,” the longtime New Mexico artist says. “I think it will follow me for the rest of my life.” Sprague’s interiors focus on common ob-jects like tables and chairs, implying a sense of humanity while leaving ample room for the viewer’s own interpretation. The scenes are never based on photographs of actual places. “Almost all of my imagery comes out of my head,” says Sprague. “The images in Red Sofa With Deco Rug come from time I spent in Ger-many when I was in college, I think—I’m never completely sure where things come from.” As he prepares for an upcoming show at the University of Oklahoma art museum he will be an artist in residence at his alma mater in October—Sprague notes that he’s been painting more and more exterior works. “It looks like I’m headed back outside again,” he says. “The windows have been giving way to more balconies, and the balconies are becoming less important.” Sprague is represented by Joyce Robins Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. —KB
Residential Hotel, oil, 24 x 30.
When Seattle painter Lois Silver married fellow artist Lyle Silver 25 years ago, they lived in an old warehouse on Puget Sound. “We didn’t have any curtains, and the furniture was old. I wanted to build a nest with velvet curtains and rich colors on the walls,” she recalls. “But since I couldn’t have it in real life, I created a fantasy world in my paintings. When I paint an interior, I envision how I would decorate these rooms.” That fantasy world—emotionally charged scenes of solitary figures in richly hued rooms—has become her signature style. Working with oil bars—“I love the intense colors they create, the screaming yellows, reds, and oranges,” she explains—she blocks out the colors on the canvas before going back and painting in the details using her fingers. Her goal is to create paintings that work on an emotional level and cause her viewers to come up with their own interpretations about what’s happening in the scenes. “I want my works to have a solitary feeling. Usually I start out with a crowd of people in my paintings, and I take them out one by one,” she says. “The figures that are left don’t have mouths, so you can’t tell if they’re happy or sad—so people have to put their own spin on it.” Silver is represented by Lisa Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA; Sutton West Gallery, Missoula, MT; and Margo Jacobsen Gallery, Portland, OR .—AH
Featured in “Portfolio: Interiors” April 2001