Ben Konis: Forging Strong Relationships

My colors aren?t meant to be a literal re-creation of my subject. Instead, I focus not on the actual colors, but on the relationships between the colors I choose. So when I select a color for a particular object, I consider the colors that will be behind it and next to it. Several factors play into my decisions. I know, for example, that if the values are right, the colors will look right. I also consider how various warm and cool colors react to one another. In most cases, I want strong value and temperature change right around my center of interest.


To Market, To Market (pastel 9×12)

I find it?s critical to start with clear, clean color. It?s easier to play down pure colors than it is to punch up dull hues. My initial color layer is done entirely with hard Nupastels. I begin by drawing guidelines and scumbling in the darkest areas. Then I move on to add the values that fall between the darkest dark and the value of the paper, allowing some of the toned surface to peek through. When those colors are in place, I move on to lighter colors, temporarily bypassing any hues that are the same value as the paper. I apply the lights more heavily, creating an opaque look that completely covers my working surface. When these colors are in place, I add all of the midtone areas that I bypassed earlier.


Mama’s Skirt (pastel, 12×16)

I usually work my paintings until they have about a “three-quarter-finished” look. There are some smooth, refined areas–often near the center of interest–but these are contrasted with unfinished, stroky, secondary areas. If I find myself cleaning up the image too much, putting in too much detail or refining too many secondary areas, it?s time to stop.

Ben Konis? interest in art surfaced early?he got his first paint set at age 12. After finishing high school and spending two years in the military, he continued his art education?first at the Catan-Rose Institute of Fine Art (on Long Island) and later at the Art Students League and the New School for Social Research (both in New York City). After working for several years as the art director of his own printing firm in New York, Konis decided to paint full time. So in 1968, he headed West and opened his own studio and gallery in Amarillo, Texas. Konis? paintings have received numerous awards and can be found in many private and corporate collections across the United States. An active workshop instructor, Konis is also a member of several art societies, including the Pastel Society of America.

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