not Thomas Woodruff's paintings are to your taste in terms of subject matter is
one thing—although who doesn't love maniacal butterflies and tigers prowling
through lush, jewel-tone landscapes?—but the artist definitely knows how to put
a painting together compositionally. And when it comes to painting with
acrylics, the surprising subtlety, formations of space,
and the variety of surface treatments that he utilizes makes it obvious that
the man knows what he's doing.
||Beastie Variation, Sanguinic by Thomas Woodruff,
2009-10, acrylic and acrylic gouache on heavy rag
paper, 66 1/2 x 46 1/2.
Looking at all Woodruff's latest paintings, which were exhibited at the PPOW
Gallery in New York City earlier this year, I was amazed by all the angles the
artist incorporated into the compositions. There were diagonals cut by
verticals, 'X' arrangements with objects circling around them, hourglass
formations, a series of verticals disrupted by horizontal banding-the list goes
on. But it's plain to see that Woodruff isn't doing this just for effect. He
doesn't want to confuse or repel the viewer. Instead, these strong though
fairly complicated compositional arrangements give us a way to experience the work
without getting overwhelmed—the eye can simply follow the path the artist has
|Still Life Variation, Phlegmatic
by Thomas Woodruff, 2009-10,
acrylic on linen, 60 x 40.
In terms of
acrylic painting, I have to say I was surprised that Woodruff was actually painting
with acrylics. The "bold richness" so often ascribed to oil paintings is an apt
description for his acrylic works as well. The amount of paint he uses is
fairly consistent across any given work, but he really is a master manipulator
when it comes to varying the wetness of his brushstroke. He works wet into wet,
wet on dry, and even what looks to be dry over dry to create a stippled effect
in some passages.
insight into acrylic painting applications, our special issue The Complete Guide to Painting is what I'm
reaching for. The editors of American
Artist have really outdone themselves pulling together this comprehensive
resource and making it appealing and relevant to painters across media. Every
painter will find something worthwhile within The Complete Guide to Painting. I can just about
guarantee it. Enjoy!