Solo Exhibition | Scottsdale, AZ
Altamira Fine Art Scottsdale is pleased to present a solo exhibition for David Frederick Riley, Blow with the Wind.
Please join us for an Artist Reception during the ArtWalk, Thursday, April 8 from 7-9pm.
Blow With the Wind
If realism and abstraction are on two sides of a teeter totter, how do I lengthen both sides so that the realism is pushed as well as the abstraction? How do I continue to push the extremes of both realism and abstraction?These are the questions I’ve recently been asking myself alongside my perennial lines of inquiry: Are the values are right? Is the form right? Am I losing enough through abstraction? I’m aware of painting as an illusion of three dimensions. It’s a fun game to play—showing the viewer this is obviously paint, and on the other hand, attempting to evoke a third dimension. My technique of applying mineral spirits toward the end of my painting process pushes the abstract qualities and yields greater variation. I have hopes for what the mineral spirits will do, but ultimately, it does whatever it wants. Somedays it works in your favor and other days, I curse the varnish gods for what they’ve done to the painting. The nice thing about this point in life as an artist is that I have spent so much time working on my technical foundation, I don’t fear risk as much anymore. I have confidence I’ll be able to save the painting. That doesn’t mean it’s not aggravating; sometimes it eats my favorite part. I try and remember to laugh, and to consider the deeper impermanence of life and the deeper value of imperfection. In those moments, my process becomes a conversation, a negotiation. I love having to respond and ask myself, what is the next move that works with it?
I’ve been playing around with color in my work. Color helps me think more abstractly, to think more in blocks or shapes of color instead of what the actual object is. The cowboy epitomizes my recent forays with color. I tend to work more in neutrals and greys, but some of the old photos are more sepia in tone. In the past, I’ve stayed away from such a warm palette. Especially when I am working with older reference material, I strive to bring the imagery back to life. Sepia seems more like leaving subjects in the past. However with this vintage image, I wanted to lose the cowboy into the background as much as possible. I wanted the warmth to be there as much as the white. So I embraced the sepia and let it fade out.
Embracing the unknown has almost become second nature for me now. Introducing mineral spirits is one of the many balls I juggle as an artist. For instance, the drawing ball has me asking: Are the shapes in the right places? Are they the right size? Meanwhile, the value ball asks: Is this the correct light or dark? If I’m working with color, I hold that ball in play. And then finally: How is the painting going to be affected by mineral spirits? It helps to have a few balls feel automatic; they are in the air, but I don’t have to give them as much thought because I know I’m going to catch them. There are times when I get lost in value or color and I paint too thick for the effect I want. Those moments fall into acts of nature. It’s good practice to allow such fate-based results to happen. It’s easy to want to control everything, but the technique I've developed intentionally makes it impossible. By letting go of the outcome, I get results that are unplanned and often exceed my expectations. Sometimes letting fate win is a win for me too.
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