JWH painting updates

The thrill of color in paintings by JW Harrington

From the start of my time painting, I’ve been a colorist, fascinated by the visual and emotional impact of color.  Form certainly matters as well – as Mark Rothko showed so powerfully.  In my decades of studying paintings, I’ve always wondered – still wonder – why Rothko’s color-field paintings enthrall me.  I’m not alone, though I’ve read quite-good explanations.

Mark Rothko's Yellow Over Purple (1956).

 While Rothko’s paintings seem to demand that the viewer look internally for meaning (and defy that meaning to be “programmatic,” since they convey emotion and introspection rather than a “story,” Clyfford Still conveyed drama in his paintings’ value contrasts and jagged forms.  I see action, even fighting, and if I want I can see narrative.

Clyfford Still’s 1949, No. 1.


I started out painting Color Abstractions, each focused on two complementary colors: 

red and green,

orange-red and blue-green,

gold and purple,

yellow and blue (with a little orange).

Not too much orange, though:  orange is quite powerful, quite jarring.


In closing, I have to acknowledge the master of color and color theory, Josef Albers.

Josef Albers, Interaction of Color (1963), Plate IV-1.


Next: what happened when I’ve added texture to color?




Painting news by JW Harrington

As I’ve admittedly procrastinated in composing an update on my painting, things to share have piled up.  But I haven’t procrastinated in painting!

My primary current series is titled The Impossibility of Knowing.  The works share an attempt to capture a moment (for those that are representational) or a set of shapes, and to indicate the passing of the moment or the absence of those shapes, usually by an outline of a mirrored image of the subject.  Each is on a muted background, usually graduated from light to dark.  Here’s one example, The Impossibility of Knowing (16).    Each of these is acrylic paint on a 16”x 24” canvas.

This summer, I’m also fascinated by creating an illusion of depth within a composition.  Here’s an example, in which I challenged myself to maintain a distinction in the apparent distance from the viewer to the various features, and to provide enough detail to hold the viewer’s interest.  

I’ve not abandoned my abiding interest in visual abstraction.  Here’s one of my favorite paintings, Reach (40”x 30”).

One major development has been joining the cooperative gallery Collective Visions.  It’s at 331 Pacific Avenue in Bremerton, WA.  What attracted me to the gallery is the quality of the artists, the diversity of the work, and the space being large enough for each member to have an area for display.  We rotate our exhibits at the beginning of each month, so there’s always something new, and always some works by each of us.  For those of you in or near Seattle, it’s two blocks from the ferry terminal.  Bremerton’s worth a visit:  there’s been a lot of redevelopment on the waterfront, and of course, the ferry trip is magnificent.   For those of us in or near Tacoma, it’s only a 25-minute drive beyond the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

I’ve also been accepted into the art-rental program of Ryan James Fine Arts, a commercial gallery in Kirkland, WA.  They currently have four of my pieces, for rental to commercial or individual clients.

This month (August), 13 of my small works are on display at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters at 2201 Sixth Avenue in Tacoma (standing at the east end of the Sixth Avenue collection of shops and restaurants).  These include the entire Faces of Evil series, which didn’t scare away the shop owner, and bring quizzical looks from the café’s patrons.

As always, I invite you to visit my website, jwharrington.com, to see what new things I’ve completed!