Pentak: The Light and the Dark

October 14th, 2012 Posted in Art, Downtown, Galleries/Museums/Exhibits, handmade paper

The Bonfoey Gallery just opened their latest Stephen Pentak exhibition, Persistent Image. Pentak, a professor emeritus at OSU where he taught for 23 years, is well known for his minimalist landscapes that focus on the interplay of light and color.


He is very open about the process that he faithfully follows, using oil paints on either birch plywood panels or handmade papers. Almost always beginning with a base of bright yellow, he slowly builds the painting with numerous layers that lead him to the next step.

The video he created gives us glimpses into his methods. Atmospheric perspective becomes his key tool. Working with both the light and the dark, he uses the dark to frame the light, “making the light more luminous by contrast. I work with the idea that darker colors are going to advance. I lighten the darkest colors just a little bit and I darken the lightest colors. When I can’t add anything or take anything away, it feels like its done.”

As seen below, he uses large brushes and palette knives to apply the paint, occasionally scraping back to the original base layer for emphasis.

It’s all about the process…

Beginning with a yellow base, adding layer after translucent layer and occasionally scraping back until it is “done.”

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