01 July 2010

Kathryn Townsend

In regards to painting: If you were to say simple is easy, you may just be clinically insane. But, let me give you the benefit of the doubt by saying you probably have never tried it. Encountering successful simplicity in paint can be a mind blowing experience. Whether it be the complex simplicity of Giorgio Morandi or that chance encounter with a gorgeous Asian brush painting of a stork, only to later find out that the master who created it achieved all that beauty with just seven strokes. Some artists may spend their entire lives in pursuit of simple. I bring up the aforementioned diatribe because of Washington artist Kathryn Townsend’s dailies. They exhibit just such a quest for simplicity by an artist pushing the elements of painting to see where they will go. She started her daily blog “Kathryn Townsend Painting Studio” in December of 2009. An artist cannot achieve simple unless they already have the chops. Alright, there might be some naturals out there, but an artist seeking simplicity really needs to have their fundamentals down. If they don’t, the hapless simplicity falls apart, and the weak foundation peeks or sometimes screams through. The human form, in particularly, falls apart without this foundation. Ms. Townsend’s work tells us she’s got the chops (I love the word “chops”). The foundation is evident in the proper structure of her subjects, whether they be animate or inanimate, her sound compositions and willingness to experiment with them, her use of rich hues applied with straightforward and sometimes limited brushwork, her abundant use of abstraction, and in her control and manipulation of values. This control of values is even more important considering the artist’s direct application of paint, which removes the luxury of turning the form through blending. The human beast just seems hellbent on complicating things and I serve you Kathryn Townsend in the fight against it. Please go take a look at her quest at www.kathryntownsend.blogspot.com.