Natural to Ornamental: Art by R. Dale McElwee
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.
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.
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.