James C Varnum

Experimental Mixed Media Paintings

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Spring 2019 Exhibit Location #15

New Art Center  
61 Washington Park
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I am an experimental painter. My paintings are combinations of layered colors, movements and various textures on traditional watercolor papers and on substrates such as Yupo and Terra-Skin. Watercolor pigments, liquid graphite and alcohol inks are my paints. I use a variety of materials to create texture: plastic wrap, waxed paper, masking fluid, salt, and spray bottles with water or alcohol. I move the pigments with various tools including brushes, combs, squeegees, and palette knives. Finally, I add lines and marks with ink or graphite. Occasionally I cut up my work and weave two paintings together to produce a new creation.

By adding wax paper or plastic wrap to the pigments as they dry, various textures evolve. When I start my drawings, I follow these contours to produce interesting lines, shapes and maps upon the dried image.

The method creates a “give-and-take relationship” that emerges and guides my work during the process. I start with ideas about color, texture, line, and composition with a limited palette. I realize that when I create lines and marks on my work, I engage in a deliberate process of emphasizing the topography of the painting while using inks or graphite. Often this revelation in structure becomes a meta-cognitive and unifying experience. It is an absorbing and meditative process.

In my work I have always been conscious of creating a dichotomy: soft edge/hard edge; light touch/pressured touch; straight mark/curved mark; warm tones/cool tones while using color and line.

The artwork is the result of my interpretation of the communication that happens during the process of painting. For me, there is a story that is woven into the creation of my paintings. In the end these patterns, symbols and maps will be discovered by the viewer. My intent is for viewers to create an association, or an interpretation of the painting that triggers their own narrative.


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