Friday, December 25, 2009

James Vogler -Wax and Oil on Canvas

Having lived just a few miles from the Vermont border at one time, I found myself often driving around the area enjoying the works of local artists. There is a certain feel to a lot of art from this region…a connectedness to the earth, perhaps, or a feeling of serenity and calm.

I recently had occasion to discover the complex, translucent paintings of Vermont artist, James Volger, whose works with oil and wax on canvas stand out from other Vermont artists. They evoke a sense of Richard Diebenkorn ‘s abstract expressionist vision of art. The paintings appear to be generated from two perspectives. On the one hand, they appear to be informed by abstraction, color and tactile imagery, but they also suggest tangible objects and landscapes. In viewing the work, it appears the artist moves back and forth between these ways of viewing his subjects, taking advantage of particular characteristics inherent in the unique properties of the oil and wax.

The artist states, “Overlapping fields of color and suggestions of line and light are used in my painting to create an atmosphere of space between geometric forms. Loosely inspired by elements found within landscape and still-life painting, the figures and forms are replaced by color planes. Color interacts with itself, creating light and depth. Through the intentional process of painting but heavily aided by coincidence, the chromatic forms and planes battle for dominance on the surface, leaving others to be swallowed by another. Through this dynamic but sensitive interplay between transparent and opaque shapes and through the suggestion of emerging and receding forms, the foreground and background become interchangeable. Time becomes marked and space becomes limitless.”

There are a large number of techniques that can be used to create oil and wax on canvas paintings. For example, cold wax medium mixed with oil paint on a palette and applied in layers is one way of describing how these types of paintings are made. At any point during the process of building up the painting, the artist might mix in powdered pigment or carbon, draw with paint sticks or tube paint, use solvent to create lines or expose hidden layers, scratch or gouge through with knives or other tools, use a brayer to smooth and distribute paint.

Diego Rivera’s paint was made up of beeswax, lemon resin (resine elemi) or copal, essence of lavender or turpentine and dry pigment and he applied this medium to stone walls to make his murals. The wax and lemon resin or copal were each mixed separately with the essence of lavender by boiling in a water bath or double boiler. When this process takes place, the wax becomes a thick molasses-like substance and is then ground with the dry pigment with a smooth marble hand grinder. Lavender essence is used to thin the mixture. In Rivera’s day, prepared colors were kept as a paste in air tight containers covered with water. The cement or stone wall was then prepared with the lemon resin mixture. If this was too thick and pasty to apply a blow torch was used to soften the material and make it more malleable. Blowtorches were also used to apply the paint to make it more fluid and to fuse the wax into the resin layer below.

Vogler writes: "While working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY from 1978 till 1990, I continued to develop my style of color field abstraction. After moving to Vermont in 1991, I changed careers and ceased painting while establishing my own business. Three years ago I resumed painting, and currently paint full time most of the year. My work is formed of complex arrangements of overlapping shapes produced in oil for it’s inherent luminosity and mixed with a wax medium to create a matte surface to allow the viewer to see the subtle color relationships. My work is currently in an evolutionary stage with a prolific body of work being produced on both canvas and paper."

James Vogler majored in Art History and Painting at Rutgers University. and Kean University. Originally from New Jersey, he now resides in Charlotte, Vermont. Readers can see more of his work on his blog by clicking HERE.

Recent Exhibits

ECCO Clothes Sept.- Oct. 2009

Maltex Building Burlington City Arts April 2009-Sept. 2009

Chittendon Bank Davis Center UVM March 2009 – May 2009

Sketchbook Project Art House Coop Atlanta Ga. Traveling exhibit Feb. 2009

Museum of Contemporary Art DC.

Chris’ Jazz CafĂ© Phila. Pa.

Laconia Gallery Boston Ma.

Antena Gallery Chicago Il.

Soulard Art Market St.Louis Mo.

3rd Ward Gallery Brooklyn NY

Museum of Design Atlanta Ga.

Chicago Art Source Chicago Il. June 2009

Burlington Art Hop 2008 Maltex Building Sept.2009

Mr. Volger's works are currently in numerous private collections in US and France.

1 comment:

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