In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration, and creative challenges. Today, we look at a series of Diptychs and Triptychs from Michael Colpitts…
The Perfect Pair
Mixed media painter Michael Colpitts has long had a simple goal with his art. “I want the viewer to feel good when they look at one of my pieces. I can do this by creating focal points in contrast to quiet areas, I can do it with texture, I can do it with brightness of paint itself – like with bold colors in contrast to muted earth tones. But it has to make the viewer feel good.” This is perhaps in part what made Michael’s latest move into diptychs so appealing.
The journey of the Diptychs started several months ago, when Michael was at one of the many shows he participates in. “There was an artist who had a booth near me,” Michael tells us, “who did these really big, long painting sets. He used resin and iridescent paint to basically make these monotone but textured pieces that were really cool, and really popular.” Eventually, the artist ended up chatting with Michael about his history and their craft. “He talked about how he does everything in these sets, so that he has more options as far as how to sell them. A lot of the people that come to these shows, they have houses with lots of wall space to fill up. So having options of different ways to occupy that wall space, while still having the pieces be visually consistent, is helpful.” Michael found the entire interaction incredibly inspiring. By the time he returned home for the show, he knew his next project would be a diptych.
“I knew I had a challenge in front of me, because the diptych was going to be much more minimal than my usual work. And minimalism can be very hard. How do I make the color field soft and plain but still interesting? How do I prevent the eye from becoming bored? These were my primary concerns when I started making the piece.” Although Michael was not without ideas for how to accomplish his task, some of the best moments came by accident. “At a certain point I took the first painting outside and laid it down on a tarp, so I could start scraping modeling paint onto the canvas to start giving it texture. Well, the wind came in and a strong gust just blew the tarp right onto the painting! At first I was upset, because I thought hours of work had just been ruined. But when I took the tarp off, I actually loved the texture it had created. So I took the areas out where I didn’t want it, but I knew it was something I wanted to keep using. When I took the second painting out, I just threw the tarp right on it!” An additional moment of help came when fellow resident artist Pilisa Rainbow Lady gave input on the pieces. “She told me that I should promote the areas of texture, which I thought was great advice.” Thinking back to the iridescence of the pieces of the artist at the show, Michael ended up using gold leaf to add iridescence of his own. “Overall, I was really happy with how the pieces turned out.”
The Diptych sold at the next show Michael went to, along with a good piece of news. “The woman who bought it with her husband e-mailed me a few days after and said ‘Your paintings look really nice in our house. One thing I didn’t see in the show was the iridescence that you put into the focal points. In the lighting at our house, you can see it perfectly.’ I just love that! It’s very serendipitous.”
… and a Two
Michael immediately set out to create a second diptych, but this time approaching a few things differently. “I knew I wanted the bands in the middle to be the focal point – to have most of the texture. So that meant I had to figure out how to make the rest of the painting, which was the majority of it, visually interesting. So I decided to experiment with iridescent paints, which I usually don’t use.” Michael put a glaze layer of an iridescent tan color first, before layering over a non-iridescent orange. The contrast between the shiny and opaque colors gives what Michael refers to as “an increased depth in the quiet spaces.” Additionally, Michael intentionally used the tarp trick on both paintings to create a similar texture to the first diptych.
In the end, Michael has found creating the diptychs to be incredibly creatively stimulating and hasn’t ruled out doing more in the future. “If people keep wanting them, I’ll keep doing them.”
See the Set
Be sure to see Michael’s wonderful pieces, as well as the work of all our artists, at Creative Gateways, open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm!