By Kristin Hoerth
The first time I saw Sangita Phadke’s still lifes of fruits and vegetables was at Waxlander Gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, and I remember it vividly. The first thing I noticed was the dramatic combination of intense colors against deep black backgrounds. Then I admired the precision of the drawing, the crisp edges, the striking realism of tiny details like water droplets on a bunch of green grapes or a group of tomatoes. It wasn’t until I got within inches of the painting’s surface that I realized—this was pastel!
Phadke is one of 13 artists featured in this issue who work in mediums other than oil. In addition to her pastels, we also spotlight reduction woodblock prints by Colorado artist Leon Loughridge. You’ll learn how he turns the sketches he completes on location into woodblocks and prints the images with homemade inks. We’ve also gathered together a portfolio featuring 10 watercolorists whose subjects include landscapes, animals, figures, and more. And we recently sat down with renowned artist William Matthews to hear about the latest challenge he’s posed for himself: a series of works depicting an iconic granary near Elko, NV, created in everything from watercolor to oil to collage to spray paint.
One of the fascinating things about this variety of mediums is the variety of surface textures that comes along with it. Despite the limitations of viewing such aspects on the printed page of a magazine, I think you’ll appreciate the smooth transparency of the watercolors in contrast to the rough strokes made by carving tools in the woodblocks. I know you’ll marvel at the complexity that talented artists can achieve in mediums where—unlike oil paint—second chances are rarely available. At the same time, it’s interesting to note that all of the usual artistic considerations still apply; drawing, composition, and color are still the building blocks, even when the techniques are dramatically different.
It’s no secret that oil paintings make up the majority of the artwork featured in these pages every month, just as they make up the majority of the artwork featured in galleries and shows across the West. And of course, they come with their own gorgeous, sensuous surface textures and colors, in all their infinite variations. But we hope this month’s issue will increase your appreciation of mediums that don’t get nearly as much attention. Enjoy the issue! — April 2012.