Painter Ken Wiley, will invite visitors to share his journey during the past 50 years through his new exhibit “There & Here: Fifty Years.”
The opening reception for the show of watercolor and acrylic paintings will be held Friday, Sept. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Adirondack Artists Guild, 52 Main Street.
The show, though titled as a culmination of the artist’s work over the past 50 years, will be a collection of recent works.
“Every painting I do I see a flaw or a way I could have improved it,” Wiley said.
Through his continued study of classical Renaissance and impressionist painters, Wiley has developed a style based on shadows and light, composition, a study of line, shape color, and texture.
“By studying artists, we can emulate and reproduce the shapes in famous paintings but an artist can never recreate the color they put on the canvas,” Wiley said.
His exhibit, which will run through Sept. 29, will be a collection of his favorite subjects: architecture, portraiture, animals, flowers and most anything that catches his eye.
“The subject matter isn’t what is important, for instance I don’t necessarily like flowers but I paint them because as an artist flowers are a source of immense color and pattern,” Wiley said. “There is no right or wrong when it comes to art and any decent work is an inspiration to me.”
It is this study of colors that he hopes will inspire a reaction.
“Painting is designed to hold and keep the eye,” Wiley said. “Color and it’s atmosphere hopefully cause an experience, it doesn’t have to be physical or a feeling.”
Wiley began his artistic career with a question: should he study history or art? The Brooklyn/New Jersey born and raised artist made the choice to be an artist.
“When it came down to it, I looked at history and knew I loved it but I didn’t know if I would become stale to me in 30 years, so I thought making art would still be new to me and challenging for me,” Wiley said.
After graduating with his masters degree, Wiley took a job at the North Country Community College (NCCC) as one of the first faculty members.
“When I came to interview for the position, the sun was shining and it was a clear day and of course there was snow everywhere, it looked so beautiful so I took the job and I’ve been here ever since,” Wiley said.
At NCCC, Wiley taught an array of art courses, such as drawing, design, painting, photography, art appreciation, art history, sculpture courses and more.
“One opportunity I had at the community college that I couldn’t have gotten if I had worked at, say, the university in Plattsburgh is I got to teach so many courses that at the time I had never studied, so I learned by figuring out how to illustrate the subjects to my students,” Wiley said. “I learned more in the first years of teaching than I ever had learning on my own for nine years of my craft.”
“It was a different course all the time,” Wiley said. “So you never got tired of what you were doing.”
One of the things Wiley said might surprise people who come to his show is that he is not an “Adirondack Artist.” His subject matter, though it often consists of Adirondack images like local homes, objects that one might find in any Adirondack home or an outdoor scene, is a mix of places he has traveled to. He’s painted a market place in Tanzania; a night scene at a modern looking gas station which jumped out to him like a futuristic space station with an air of science fiction; portraits painted in an Andy Warhol style such as “Dance Master,” and most anything he sees that jumps out at him to be recreated.
There is a signature style in both his acrylic and water color pieces. Wiley said his watercolor paintings are more realistic in shapes and colors, but watercolors aren’t a medium for abstract work. He said working with acrylic paints offers more freedom with the brush strokes.
“Ideally, the American Water Color society has said there has to be a transparency through the color and we can’t use opaque colors. White in the paintings should be the white of the paper,” Wiley said. “You can use acrylics to create more body, acrylics have their own techniques.”
Through his explorations of art, his love of history, and his study for instructing art, Wiley has combined the three elements in his style reflective of artists from another time period.
“I wish I was born in the Renaissance era when all of the great masterpieces were made, I can’t pin point my favorite but to me you get from all art a gamut,” Wiley said.
Some of his favorite styles have been inspired by the work of Michael Angelo, Renaissance painter Pieter Brueghel, impressionist James Tissot, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.
“Unfortunately my interest in artistic styles stops at the ‘70’s, after that time period I feel the artists try to do something close to ‘anti-art’ to be considered modern art,” Wiley said. “I would say I am a traditionalist.”
For more information about Wiley or to see examples of his work go to AdirondackArtistsGuild.com.