July 18, 2013

Malone artist combines media

'Painted Drawings' by Charles Atwood King opens Friday

By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — There’s not much new in art, but there’s always room for discovery for artist Charles Atwood King.

His new exhibition, “Painted Drawings,” explores oil, oil washes and mixed-media on prepared linen at the Pouring Light Studios & Gallery in Malone.

“It’s mixed-media combining traditional materials you use to draw and then oil painting,” said King, a Malone resident.

“When I approached them, I approached them compositionally and initially as a drawing, and then they become paintings and drawings on top of the paintings. Again, nothing is new in the art world, but for me it is.”

Twenty pieces comprise the exhibition, which opens Friday.

“They range from 8- by- 8 inches to 48- by- 60 inches … a series of landscapes, still life, a series I call industrials. There are three of them. I’m planning on doing more,” King said. “They are machinery equipment or pieces of equipment that are late 1800s and early 1900s. During the Industrial Revolution, things were being manufactured, but there was still some handmade quality to it. The machines were beautiful.”

A series of polished silver containers are the subject of his still life.

“The show is very detailed, but there is looseness to it,” he said.

Beneath the oil washes, colored pencil and graphite, King prepped linen canvas.

“So the linen looks like a very fine sheet of drawing paper. It’s stretched linen that lasts for hundreds of years. I gessoed many thin coats with super-fine sanding in between. I use translucent and opaque color. The surface loses most of the linen texture. They become large sheets of ‘drawing paper.’ It looks like tinted drawing paper,” King said.

He tapes or thumbtacks his works on his studio walls after drawing sessions or classes; this was his inspiration. 

“I come home and tape my drawing on my studio wall or thumbtack them and study the pieces to see what I’ve done, what works and what doesn’t work,” King said. “What a way to display art, but it’s how can I get the freshness of taped art on the wall and have them protected archivally?”

The works are unframed.

“The edges are lightly painted. The edge blurs around the canvas stretcher. Some of the background, the canvas, shows through. I didn’t do an underpainting,” he said. “It’s draw-on-the-surface, and there are lots of washes and layers and scribbles.”

Once he completed them, he was challenged to find a method to protect them. 

“I had to varnish them to protect them. I couldn’t varnish over the drawing. The varnish acted as a solvent. I experimented with a few different charcoal fixatives. I used the varnish I was accustomed to use, but I sprayed it on, then brushed it on. Got a coat to seal it on and brush another coat on if I wanted something different. I played around with flat and satin (varnish),” he said.

Though the pieces read as finished art, they could be drawings. They could be paintings.

“What’s the difference? There’s a lot of difference except the traditional medium for drawing is dry and the traditional medium for paintings is wet. But everyone does anything now, so it doesn’t really matter,” he said.

One can almost walk into his large works. 

“Prepping the canvas took a major amount of time. There is a lot of color but light on the color. I wouldn’t say it’s a colorful show, but it has color to it. Initially, I was going to do everything monochromatic like graphite, conte crayon, lot of browns, reads and umbers … those natural colors. I was going to do all those colors. It looked more like drawing,” King said.

He started adding colored pencils, and he couldn’t resist. 

“Some of them are like sepia-toned photographs,” King said. “There’s color there but somewhat restrained.”

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IF YOU GO WHAT: "Painted Drawings" by Charles Atwood King. WHEN: Opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Exhibit runs through Saturday, Aug. 31. WHERE: Pouring Light Studios & Gallery, 432 East Main St., Malone. CONTACT: Call 483-5150 or email