Saturday, April 28, 2012

Locale Influence On An Artist's Work-Steve Fuller

Today, I am going to talk a little (or a lot, depending) about what influences an artist's perceptions of his/her world.  For me, the colors and the brilliant light of the desert southwest make me interested in lights and shadows, rocks, water (an always welcome respite from the sun) and skies.  Although I have done some portraiture and flowers, I tend to gravitate to landscapes.

Recently I received an email from a blogging friend, Steve Fuller, asking if I had ever seen his post about some of his artwork with a link to it.  Taking a look was such a delight.  He has given me permission to use some of his images of his work in this post.   Steve lives on the East Coast and blogs about the renovation of his 1842 Greek Revival Cottage at An Urban Cottage.  He is interested in gardening as well as renovations so it is no surprise that he paints flowers. 

Steve's Water Color of Daisies
What I like about this painting is the negative spaces that Steve has created between the petals of the flowers.

In this still life, Steve has organized the painting in strong abstract shapes that still clearly suggest the subjects of sunflowers, fruit and a bottle.  I love the use of blue for the shadows.   

Below is one of my sunflower paintings.  It is much more representational than Steve's and although interested in shapes and negative spaces as well, I was more intrigued by reflected light on the glass holding the paint brushes and scissors in this piece which I did from life (no photo, although one would be helpful as the painting is not completed) in my living room when we lived in Santa Fe.  
Sunflowers by Heather Gaume
And sailboats. Not a surprise that sailboats are non-existent in my work (except on a recent trip to Belize I rarely even see a sailboat unless it is on a trailer being hauled to lake somewhere else.) 

More likely in New Mexico artists' work you would find an adobe building or a cow skull.
Skull and flower by Georgia O'Keeffe

Steve sees sailboats all the time and so he paints them. Below he has organized the scene to change the focus and improve the design of this piece from his reference photograph...
Steve's Reference Photo
Steve's Painting
to this lovely, lyrical, and misty harbor scene.  Notice the things left out of the composition.  Don't you think he chose wisely?  Steve's use of white, rather than dark roofs helps keep this painting from feeling top heavy.  Do you like the yellow sky that is only slightly darker than the foreground?  I think it is brilliant.

River Jewels by Heather Gaume
Similar palette to Steve's painting.  Not as abstract, but certainly not realistic.  I did take a reference photo for this painting, but I cannot find it to show to you.  The colors in life were much more harsh in the mid afternoon sun which cast great shadows on the ledge path leading up the hillside.

Landscape by Steve Fuller
 In this painting by Steve, he has changed the shape of the blue background to make the painting more interesting than his original sketch.  He uses the strong blue to make the foreground stand out.
Landscape by Heather Gaume
In this painting, I changed the direction of the river bed to make it meander through the painting from left to right to increase the diagonals in this piece.
When I teach classes, I encourage students to change what they see, leave some things out, or add something that is not in their original sketch.

Be sure to visit Steve's blog, An Urban Cottage.  His most recent post is about Fritz Bultman, a member of a group of artists, "The Irascibles" who painted in the 1950's.  Fritz was a student of  Hans Hofmann who is said to be the father of Abstract Expressionism.  From Steve's post, you will get a little taste of history, a great photo of Provincetown, and a pretty hot picture of Fritz's wife, Jeanne.


  1. Steve's work is really lovely. I prefer it to the Provincetoen work he featured. guess my taste runs to the less "Irascible"! Although he has assured me it isn't true, I picture his basement much like Martha Stewart's prop rooms--filled with treasures like his Gee's Bend quilts, black and white art and who can guess what other gems.

  2. Imagine my surprise to see one of my own paintings in my Reading List. I'm honored that you chose my work to juxtapose against yours. I am very interested in pattern so I was inspired by that group of daisies that danced above a dark background. You may have also noticed that one of petals is shaped like a lobster claw reaching out to pinch its neighbor. In the Rockport painting, I wanted to see if I could give the impression of a foggy day using a warm color palette. Important to that was the invisible barrier between water and sky. I was also trying to unite shapes that shared the same value. The left-most boat is united with the wharf and one of the buildings.

    I'm really impressed with your rocks in the River Jewels painting. You've executed them beautifully. I would avoid that subject matter just because it would drive me crazy. I'm also impressed with your use of color in the last landscape. That takes guts!

    Thank you for doing this post. It was not only a huge compliment, it was very interesting.

  3. I had no idea Steve was a painter. I knew he saw through the eye of an artist but I didn't know he was a artist.

    This is the stuff great blogging is made of.

    I enjoyed seeing both your works.

    xo jane


I love hearing from you. Please let me know you visited.