A Color Vortex

Mixing Colors Everywhere

Wayfarers by Mark Messersmith, 2005, oil on canvas with carved wooden top parts and mixed media predella box, 72 x 75.
Wayfarers by Mark Messersmith, 2005, oil on canvas with carved wooden top parts and mixed media predella box, 72 x 75.

Looking at Mark Messersmith’s artwork is like being sucked into a kaleidoscope. The colors are bold, varied, and everywhere. It seems odd to say this. I mean, of course, there is color everywhere–it’s a painting. But what stands out about Messersmith’s work is that he isn’t mixing colors just because. The colors, more than anything else, lead you through the painting. A certain color will appear in the sky, then on a bird’s wing, then in the sheen of light reflected off a bear’s fur. As a result, your eye follows the path and, in many cases, reads the work through the interwoven color schemes.

May Blooming by Mark Messersmith, 2009, oil on canvas with carved wooden top parts and mixed media predella box, 65 x 82.
May Blooming by Mark Messersmith, 2009,
oil on canvas with carved wooden top parts and mixed media predella box, 65 x 82.

It’s an interesting approach and one that must have taken a great deal of trial and error when it comes to mixing colors in order for the artist to get the right color against the right background. If he hadn’t honed his color skills through extensive practice, the colors mixing around and swirling across his fine art oil paintings just wouldn’t be effective.

Messersmith’s works are incredibly busy and filled edge to edge with visual content and very little negative space. He obviously chooses his colors–bright hues foremost-with care so that they can stand up to such busy compositions. In other situations mixing colors like this might be considered garish, but the way Messersmith uses them works. The colors seem the perfect complement to their busy surroundings.

If you are interested in plumbing the depths of mixed media in a ridiculously easy and accessible way, then Staci Swider’s Live Canvas Webinar is the resource you want to start with. Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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