November 2013 Artist of the Month | Chris Breier

Congratulations to Chris Breier! He is our November Artist of the Month. Breier was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine’s 29th Annual Art Competition. His painting, One Eighty (acrylic, 18×24) is below. Scroll down to read about Breier’s art!

www.cbreier.com ~ Williamsville, NY

One Eighty (Acrylic, 18x24) by Chris Breier

One Eighty (acrylic, 18×24) by Chris Breier

Drawing is something that I became interested in at a young age, taking classes in drawing, painting, and photography throughout high school. I majored in fine arts at Niagara County Community College and received a BFA from the University at Buffalo in printmaking. I continue to learn about art through books and by taking occasional workshops, but I make my living as a graphic artist. I have been working in printing and graphic design since 1995.

I work in acrylic, drawing mediums, and digital photography. Acrylic is my favorite medium because it’s virtually odorless, cleans up with water, and can be used to mimic a variety of traditional mediums.

Experimenting with new tools and techniques is something that I make time for on a regular basis. Recently I began working with an iPad to draw and paint digitally. I use the iPad as a sketchbook for exploring new ideas and techniques. Drawing with a stylus, (or finger), on a touch screen is much more direct than drawing with a mouse on a traditional computer.

I’ve been working simultaneously in abstraction and realism since college. I don’t think of them as separate and I enjoy the interplay between the two approaches to making art. My representational work consists mostly of landscapes and still lifes.

One Eighty may appear to be entirely abstract but it was inspired by real world subject matter. For instance, the dark calligraphic shapes towards the lower right corner are the negative spaces between the branches of a tree. The geometric shapes in the background are based upon the power transmission towers near the Niagara River.

Reference material is useful whether I’m working representationally or abstractly, so I begin by making drawings and taking many photographs. It’s more efficient to work out potential problems in these early stages by making basic thumbnail sketches. If I am working abstractly I may collage images together to emphasize the abstract elements.

When I’m satisfied with the idea for a painting, I begin by drawing the basic proportions on a gessoed canvas. The preliminary drawing is very basic; otherwise, I would be afraid to paint over it. When I’m ready to apply color, my goal is to develop every part of the painting at the same time.

My color palette consists of primary colors, black, white, and some neutrals. The pigments that are used to make primary colors aren’t entirely pure so it’s a good strategy to have more than one version of them. Additionally, having colors in both the opaque and transparent varieties create more options for layering color. The primary colors that I use are: ultramarine blue, phthalocyanine blue, quinacridone crimson, cadmium red medium, yellow medium azo, and cadmium yellow medium.

Aside from black and white, the premixed neutrals that I use most often are yellow oxide, raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber, Hooker’s green deep hue, and neutral gray. This is more efficient than having to mix every color from scratch and it’s more economical–the neutral colors are usually made from the less expensive pigments.

The difficulty for me has always been knowing when to stop. There’s a fine line between a finished painting and an overworked painting. One Eighty languished in my studio for a week before I could figure out what I needed to do to complete it. It was one of those instances when I thought it was finished, but I had a nagging sense that something wasn’t quite right. I concluded that it was too monochromatic and there wasn’t enough contrast. The solution was to add more warm highlights to it and a saturated blue stripe along the left edge.

My goal is to get my work in front of a larger audience and to market my work more consistently. Aside from entering contests, I have created a website so that anyone can follow my work.

Chris Breier

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