Finding Your Way Back

I’ve always been fascinated by artists who live during incredibly polarizing times, but somehow still seem to go their own way. Elmer Bischoff–ever heard of this oil painting artist? He stands out as an artist in the aftermath of World War II when abstract expressionism was on the rise. He found his way back to figuration, creating works that are quiet, lovely, and surprisingly sumptuous with their color and paint treatment.

Orange Sweater by Elmer Bischoff, 1955, oil on canvas, 48 1/2 x 57.
Orange Sweater by Elmer Bischoff, 1955, oil on canvas, 48 1/2 x 57.

As part of the Bay Area figurative art movement, Bischoff took on elements of abstraction but found he was drawn to the figure in his oil painting art as well. A couple of my favorite Bischoff oil painting works are Orange Sweater and Red Cliffs. Looking at them side by side I see why I’m equally drawn to them. Both have colors that are somewhat muted but are also subtle and complex. In Orange Sweater, the light shining through the blinds in the background of the work is so beautiful–a mauve-grey with a gorgeous golden tinge.

I’m also drawn to how figures are situated in the landscape of Bischoff’s works. They are almost hidden in plain sight. That’s how unassuming and well-placed they are. There’s a perfect balance between figure and interior or landscape, and that is pretty rare. Usually artists tend to emphasize one or the other. The results are so sensitive and peaceful, a testament to the diverse and complex history of American painting!

 Red Cliffs by Elmer Bischoff, 1963, oil on canvas, 78 x 103.
 Red Cliffs by Elmer Bischoff, 1963, oil on canvas, 78 x 103.

Delving into Bischoff’s history has re-inspired me about the enduring appeal of oil painting, and about finding my own way of doing it. If you are looking for your own way of creating through painting and drawing, don’t hesitate to explore all the resources available at the North Light Shop. You will find great guides and technique workshops to use as a springboard in your work so that you can find your way back to making art the way you really want to. And right now the Labor of Love Sale is going on with 50% off, storewide. 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.