Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend the opening of Jason Bard Yarmosky's solo show "Elder Kinder" at Lyons Wier Gallery, in New York City. It's a terrific painting exhibition, and it got me thinking about how an artist can develop both figure drawings and figure paintings of the same subject into finished pieces with entirely different tones and feelings.
Yarmosky draws and paints senior citizens (his grandparents are his most frequent models) in strange, inappropriate-seeming outfits and accessories, such as superhero costumes, rabbit ears, and prom dresses. The artist's drawings and paintings are closely related—some compositions are the basis for both a drawing and a painting.
The exhibition is a mix of humor, reflection, and painting aptitude. But as I looked at the works in person for the first time, I was surprised that even with their dark backgrounds and deep shadows, I found the tone of the paintings to be light. I think the artist's graphite figure drawings (which were featured last year in Drawing magazine) are melancholy and humorous in about equal measure. But something about the bright value contrasts and the large scale of the paintings brings the humor of these genial models to the fore.
|Rockabye Baby by Jason Bard Yarmosky,
oil on linen, 60 x 40.
|Len With Swimmies by Jason Bard Yarmosky,
graphite drawing, 24 x 18.
|Kinder Love by Jason Bard Yarmosky,
graphite drawing, 18 x 24.
|Horse Feathers by Jason Bard Yarmosky,
oil on canvas, 64 x 50.
This is just a personal interpretation of one artist's work. But it just goes to show that even when working with the same subjects, you can achieve very different results depending on your choice of materials. If you're working on how to paint or how to draw people in a way that achieves a certain emotional effect, it may actually help to mix it up and try a different media, a different surface, or work on a different scale. You never know when making just a change or two can have a huge impact on the impression made by a finished piece.