For the Love of Color

(Last Updated On: March 30, 2011)

by Wayne Johns

After a long cold winter, what we tend to long for most (aside from warmer weather) is the return of color to the landscape. The yellows of forsythia and jonquils arrive first, then the lavender redbuds, various pale greens of new leaves and the eggshell white of our state flower, the dogwood.

And what better way to celebrate spring’s arrival and the re-emergence of color than an art exhibit called For the Love of Color? The show is subtitled “An Experiment in Abstract Art” and features the work of Kendall Doub and Alex Norwood.

“As artists what most excites us is playing around with color,” said Norwood. “Sometimes just a color combination gets me jazzed-up and if I’m jazzed-up I think the viewer will be too.”

“I love color and color theory and texture,” Doub agreed.

Both cite Mark Rothko as a lasting influence. Despite the fact that both are abstract painters, they have distinct styles; Norwood primarily paints with wide brushes whereas Doub typically uses a palette knife, building up layers of paint to create textured areas. Doub spoke about attempting to create an illusion of depth, of using paint in an almost sculptural way on the canvas to create “a window looking into a three-dimensional space.” The collaborative process started evolving back in December. “We knew we didn’t want half the room Kendall and half Alex,” Norwood said. So they decided that in addition to featuring new work and older pieces by each of them, they also wanted to experiment by creating some paintings together.

Before beginning each of the four collaborative paintings they would discuss such things as color, structure and common theme, and then they took turns with the first strokes of each painting. Norwood said that after a lot of discussion and debate they decided they “wanted to work while the paint was wet, while the forms and colors were still taking shape.”

During the collaborative process, they tried to break out of their traditional techniques by using cotton rags, for example, to rub paint away. Norwood said that made him want to try new things, maybe even a group of paintings where he rubbed paint off the canvas. “People might not recognize them as Alex Norwood’s. And that would be good.” Doub adds that the collaborative process “definitely makes you think outside the box.”

Speaking of that, Doub was one of 10 area artists who participated in the YES! Weekly Outside the Box Project last year.

Doub’s creation, “The Contempo Box,” made use of the colors of the YES! Weekly logo — black, white and red. After all, as he said, “Color is part of the subject matter in abstract work.” The box is still on display outside the 5ive and 40rty gallery on Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem. Doub says that working on the box was a great experience that he hopes to have the chance do again some time.

Both artists like the idea of art being interactive and not simply hanging on a gallery wall. Both are members of the Seed Collective, whose stated goal is “planting art in the community.” To that end, the show, which runs through April 30, will include two painting sessions with the artists in the gallery on Saturday, April 16 and Saturday, April 23 from 2-4 p.m. You’re encouraged to bring your own supplies, but the artists will also contribute art supplies; so all you really need to bring is a canvas, board or whatever you want to paint on.

Alex suggested that while the art hanging on the walls might help provide teaching points, the sessions would be largely driven by experience level and by what participants are interested in creating. “We want to give people an idea of how we approach a blank canvas and then let them experiment,” Doub said. Both artists stressed the fact that the sessions are for all skill levels and all ages and that no previous experience is necessary. Of course, participants get to take home their very own finished work of abstraction.

They had similar answers when asked what they like about abstract art. Doub said that it’s fun to see what people see in a work. He strives to create very energetic paintings that kind of “perform before your eyes.” Norwood also talked about the fact that what people see in an abstract work is more individualized. Although some people may not see anything, Norwood always does and, if asked, will always share his insight; even if what he sees sometimes might be “a cityscape at night on another planet.”

First Friday Art Hops happen the first Friday of each month in Greensboro along Elm Street and in Winston- Salem emanating from the corner of  th and Trade streets.