To see examples of my paintings visit www.barrysstudio.com/gallery.
The Absence of Color
After art patrons look at my paintings I always hear “is this your blue period”. This statement is in reference to a phase Pablo Picasso once had. After a close friend killed himself, Picasso started painting all his paintings in various values of blue.
The answer to this question is no. I am not having a blue period.
So why blue?
Anatomy of a Painting
In respects to my style of painting and the problem I am trying to solve, a work of art can be broken down into the following layers:
A canvas is just a vehicle for transporting an artist’s idea into something tangible; a work of art you can see and touch.
At the fundamental basics a canvas is an empty piece of stretched cloth that could be made from hemp, linen, cotton, or some other relevant type of fabric.
A drawing is a two-dimensional work of art that consists of lines organized in such a way to create an image. Depending on the type of drawing, an image can express depth or take on a flat appearance.
When shade is applied with different values you can create the illusion of form and volume within the objects of the overall image.
Various object placements within the drawing create a composition for the image. A given composition will naturally control the viewer’s eye path and create a focal point. It is the artist’s intent to try and control this path and focal point by pre-determining the layout of a composition before executing the drawing.
Paint is made up of the ratio relationship between a natural resource pigment and a binding medium.
For example cobalt blue is made up of the pigments from the natural resource metal Cobalt and linseed oil. Back in the 1500s, egg yolk was used for a binder in creating oil paint with natural resource pigments.
Overall, paint is just another form of medium used in the process.
After a canvas contains a drawing or sketch done with a charcoal pencil, I usually stare at it for hours before I begin to paint it with an alla prima impasto technique. I try and envision the painting painted on the surface before I begin the execution.
This is a critical part to the process. The desired outcome is no different than the desired outcome in an initial drawing – a hope to control the viewer’s eye path and composition focal point.
The problem I am trying to artistically solve is how to split and differentiate the difference between a drawings composition focal point and a painting’s composition focal point.
Traditionally these focal points have been one of the same. When a painting is dissected as above, you can see we really have two compositions and focal points. One is in the drawing layer and the other is in the painting layer.
In order to splitting the two compositions and focal points, I need to increase the drawing layer’s z-axis depth on the canvas by creating the illusion of voyeurism in the composition. The focal point will be split on the painting layer composition described below.
Absence of Color
In order to focus on solving the problem and have it reflected in the final work of art, I need to re-define the meaning of a painting.
A painting is the result of the arrangement of pigments and binding mediums mixed and manipulated in a way to create the illusion of objects and how they relate to one another on a flat surface. It is the value of the paint that creates the illusion of form and volume no different than shading in a drawing.
Based on my basic definition of what makes a painting, color has no place in the final product. A painting should be created with the absence of color. Color is a distraction to the overall painting.
Because the true absence of color is white, and blue is the predominantly favorable psychological color for humans to gravitate toward, I substitute white for blue in my works of art.
Given the absence of color and my substitute choice of paint, the heart of my paintings is in the value study of the color’s tone and how both compositions work off each other in various mediums.
Bringing It All Together
After bringing all the layers described above together, the final step is to split the two focal points.
This is accomplished through a voyeurism technique in the drawing composition, but greatly enforced in the painting layer by painting its focal point an overall contrasting color to the balance of the overall painting.
For example, most of my painting layers are composed out of a value study of blue, and a primary focal point of green.
In respects to the layers control of the viewer’s eye in looking at a painting, the drawing composition has a natural flow based on the placements of the objects. The painting composition’s flow is based on the impasto style brush strokes that intentionally take on a new form within the painting. Brush strokes logically represent an object no different than an object in the drawing layer.
The final outcome each painting hopes to achieve is to create one primary split second focal point for the viewer and a secondary one that becomes primary after consistent viewing of a painting – they switch roles over time.
To see examples of my paintings visit