Show Preview | Richard Baker

Santa Monica, CA
Skidmore Contemporary Art, October 22-November 26

Richard Baker, Midsummer Daydream, oil, 36 x 48.

Richard Baker, Midsummer Daydream, oil, 36 x 48.

This story was featured in the October 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  October 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Richard Baker knows something about composition. The Los Angeles artist worked his way up the ladder in the entertainment business from cameraman to executive producer for a slew of comedy specials, movies, and TV shows, most recently the ABC sitcom “Last Man Standing.” Early on, Baker spent hundreds of hours in editing rooms, “scrutinizing pictures and doing color correction and looking in viewfinders,” he says. This month at Skidmore Contemporary Art, Baker presents viewers with a different kind of picture plane in a solo show titled At Leisure, which opens on Saturday, October 22, with an artist’s reception at 5 p.m. The exhibit comprises 13 new oil paintings that feature eye-catching compositions of his favorite motifs, from California vineyards to outdoor leisure activities.

Baker’s representational scenes arrest the eye with deep tonal contrasts, thick applications of color, and dramatic shifts in light and shadow. His former teacher, realist painter Rackstraw Downes, heavily inspired the techniques Baker uses today. As an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, Baker used his electives to explore fine art, including three years of oil-painting classes with Downes. “He wanted us to load up the oil paint on the brush, let it flow off the brush with heavy strokes, [and] if it’s not the right color, scrape it off with the palette knife, mix up another color, and lay that down,” remembers Baker, who picked up his brushes again four years ago, immediately returning to the style Downes taught.

Baker notes that his latest works reveal a more painterly style with less-detailed motifs and freer brush strokes. He continues to depict a variety of subjects, from golfing to beach scenes, and often he incorporates figures. “I paint my life,” says Baker. “This is where I go, what I do, and how I see.” The artist always carries a camera, ready to take a snapshot whenever “a visual experience” strikes him on a visceral level. Quoting his hero, Edward Hopper, Baker puts it this way: “If I could say it in words, then I wouldn’t need to paint it.” —Kim Agricola

contact information
310.828.5070
www.skidmorecontemporaryart.com

This story was featured in the October 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  October 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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