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Natural to Ornamental: Art by R. Dale McElwee

A watercolor painting of a fancy goldfishFancy Fish 3

Featured artist R. Dale McElwee is a watercolor painter whose works express a range of subjects, from natural to ornamental. McElwee’s paintings have a great sensitivity to color and tend toward simplified, almost stylized portrayals.


A watercolor painting of a bird's nestUntitled


The artist uses a variety of techniques to achieve images that are incredibly detailed, while remaining slightly soft at the edges. I like these soft edges, and find that they tend to enhance the focus on individual objects, giving the viewer an impression of a single subject that is fixed in an intense gaze. In places, his painting is very smooth with hard outlines, and elsewhere splashy with scattered droplets, more of a frenetic approach. McElwee’s splashier works occasionally remind me of the illustrations of Joey Feldman.


A screen capture of R. Dale McElwee's art websiteA screen capture of R. Dale McElwee's art website

I also like the way Dale will often use a variety of seemingly incongruous colors to build up each image. His paintings are often composed of numerous layers of different colors and washes. Tints and shades of colors also serve as shadows and highlights.


A watercolor painting of a sculpted horseUntitled

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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