Editor’s Letter | The More You Know

Discovering details about artists’ techniques

By Kristin Hoerth

When All the Leaves Have Fallen by David Grossmann.

When All the Leaves Have Fallen by David Grossmann.

This story was featured in the July 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  July 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

As collectors of fine art, we have the opportunity to learn so many fascinating things about artists and the artworks they create. We can discover an artist’s own personal story—who they are, where they come from, what they’re passionate about. We can also delve into a particular painting or sculpture, considering the subject matter as well as the overall message, meaning, or mood. We can assess the composition and design of the piece; if we look closely, we can also examine some of the materials and techniques that artists use to help create the work that first caught our eye from a distance.

All of these elements add to our appreciation of fine art, whether it’s hanging on the wall of a museum, a gallery, or our living room. But this month, as I’ve been working on the stories in this issue, I’ve taken particular note of the details I’ve learned about the physical processes of creating both two-dimensional and three-dimensional artworks.

For example, I’ve always been impressed by Tim Solliday’s use of color in his paintings. In the story on page 70, I found out how he does it: by using broken color—individual strokes of different pigments laid down next to one another. “It’s all about colors bouncing off other colors, or the illusion of brightness by adding gray around the strong colors,” Solliday says. “I’m known as a colorist, but if you study my work in person, you’ll see a great deal of gray.”

It’s also worth taking a close-up look at David Grossmann’s canvases. The Colorado painter, who’s having a solo show this month at Altamira Fine Art in Jackson (see page 24), often leaves deliberate spaces between his brush strokes, allowing the underpainting to show through and adding a great deal of subtle texture and pattern to his work.

An unusual technique can be found on page 84 in the paintings of forests and trees by Arizona artist Frank Balaam. Unlike many painters, Balaam works on canvases primed with the whitest gesso possible. Then, instead of blocking in large shapes throughout the whole composition, he paints each individual shape next to its neighboring shape without ever overlaying two colors—leaf by leaf, branch by branch. “Every brush stroke, every color, has the pure white canvas behind it,” he explains. “So the light hits the paint, then hits the white canvas, and comes back through again to the viewer with an almost stained-glass intensity.”

I hope you enjoy discovering all sorts of fascinating details in this month’s issue.

This story was featured in the July 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  July 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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