Wednesday, November 28, 2012

John Carollo's Work with Watermedia Takes on New Dimension with Silk

John Carollo's watermedia paintings are generally considered somewhat unusual due to his extensive use of color and motion in the compositions, but the technique itself has always been based on traditional watercolor-on-paper methods. In 2011, an opportunity arose which allowed John to branch out into a different, but related medium - painted silk.  The project involved painting 126 silk flags for a marching band and you can read more about that opportunity and its unique challenges here.

During the several month course of the work, John got a handle on what makes silk painting different from paper painting (mainly the absorption rate), but also found that much of his established technique transferred well to the fabric, often with very smooth blending and atmospheric effects.

Working outside, due to the size of the pieces, and hanging the silk on a line to dry created a moment of inspiration, which John describes as follows:

The Rapture
"A set of the flags was drying on the line when late afternoon sun peeked over the nearby roof and suddenly illuminated them from behind. The colors became startlingly vivid, almost electric. Close to the richness of stained glass while maintaining the flows and blends that had been painted in. It was a total lightbulb moment, and I realized that I could incorporate this material and effect into art pieces."

John had been experimenting with 3D work, largely constructed from painted, cut paper and wire and other mixed media since 2007, as prototypes for large-scale works for transit stations, atriums and the like. While that work was progressing, including into the 2010, 9' tall The Rapture, which will be shown in Mount Dora, a limitation of the pieces was the fragility of the paper construction.

The Reach
The silk provides the possibility of a more durable material, which can also be backlit to great effect as it is formed into dynamic, sweeping shapes. The Reach, which was completed in February, 2012 with partial funding from a United Arts of Central Florida Artist Development Grant is John's first creation of a silk-based piece. Featuring wire frame construction and internal backlighting, it was premiered in Bradenton, and will also be in Mount Dora, where it will be joined by a dramatically larger and more ambitious piece, as well as the silk portion of a collaboration with Marsha De Broske.

Here is a video that documents the painting of the single butterfly wing for The Reach. Watercolor artists will note John's extensive use of a "bloom" technique to create some interesting effects in it.

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