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Word Paintings: Art by Wayne White

A painting of block text in a forested landscapeAre You a Boy or a Girl

Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wayne White is a painter and multi-disciplinary artist with a background in commercial illustration and production painting. In the fine art world, White is best known for his word paintings: images featuring often sardonic words or phrases in crisp, colorful block letters.

A word painting with distorted letterformsHere Comes Mr. Know-It-All


White’s most recent word paintings are quite something – combining text with skillfully rendered landscapes and architectural figures, the artist serves his text alongside several layers of visual rhetoric and symbolism. In some paintings, the text itself is abstracted to the point of being almost impossible to read, and the viewer must rely on the title of the painting to gain a foothold.


These paintings function as a kind of concrete poetry. Unlike text-based works by artists like Jenny Holzer or Ed Ruscha, which tend to focus on the meaning imparted by the words themselves, White treats letterforms as figures in their own right, with life, personality, and a narrative within the painted scene.

A painted diptych of two complementary statementsAint' Tellin Ain't Askin

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. She is a recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she studied Critical and Cultural Practices. She is passionate about talking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In her studio practice she is a painter, but she considers herself an art writer and educator foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises

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