Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Gary Paul Stutler - Still Point Art Gallery Artist of Distinction

Sunlight, moonlight, starlight, daylight, lamplight. The current exhibition at Still Point Art Gallery looks at light, specifically how artists understand and use light in their compositions. The exhibition is titled The Serious and Playful Sides of Light.

Boy at Window, Pool at Night, Day Street

Artist Gary Stutler has six wonderful paintings in the exhibition, three of which are shown above. Together they illustrate why Stutler was named one of three Artists of Distinction in this exhibition. Boy at Window is a beautiful piece in so many ways. Stutler presents a touching scene in the midst of a lovely room. The young boy, seemingly alone in the room, looks out a large window. Is he waiting for someone? Has he been waiting a long time? Does he wish he could go outside to play? Is he ill? The room is illuminated only with the natural sunlight coming through the large windows, so the scene feels somber and quiet. Yet at the same time, the light beautifully shines on the wall, the floor, the bureau, and the young boy. The light brightens the painting, just as it serves to lift and brighten what might otherwise be a sad situation for the little boy as he stands at the window being bathed in beautiful light. Light completes the composition, and Stutler handles the light and the shadowing and the color changes caused by light and shadow with perfection. Day Street is a wonderful example of the playful side of light. Light shines in and shadows are created by window blinds - light and shadow thus play together on a wall. We see it all the time, but here Stutler helps us to really see and enjoy it. Finally, in Pool at Night, we see the effects of moonlight and starlight - long, dark shadows, but also the glow of the moon where it shines the brightest.

- - - - -

I asked Gary a few questions about his work:

Christine Cote: What led you to become an artist?

Gary Stutler: Drawing and later painting led me to become an artist. Some form of drawing or painting was always part of my education from primary school onwards, as well as in my home upbringing. I am forever grateful to my parents and schools for that. As a child, my reception and expression of experience was always primarily visual and physical. The contemplation and creating of images remains for me the most comfortable language to communicate whatever sensitivity and intelligence I possess.

CC: This exhibition is about the artist’s use of light. Could you say a bit about how you approach the painting of light? In particular, how did you approach the painting of light in the pieces that are in this exhibition?

GS: (The pieces I am using will be: Stoplights; Pool at Night; Moon; Interior Sunset; Day Street; Boy at Window.) Light is important because it is the actual and symbolic container and unifier in my paintings. In Stoplights, the streaks of time-lapsed light created by a snapshot of a passing car are intended to contrast and interact with the comparatively static lamplight coming from within the non-photo referenced house. The supreme contrast is made by placing these artificial, human lights beneath the immensity of the time and space created by the stars. Pool at Night has something similar going on, though its contrasts have more to do with the varying colors of light, reflected off the different subjects, than with the relative distances we intuit by defining the origins of the light. Moon is the most conscious juxtaposition of the artificial and the natural, more purely in terms of subject matter. The human and natural structures are ultimately unified by the overall intensity of color reflected from the paint surface itself. It departs more than the other paintings from naturalism by using exaggerated color contrast as much (or more) than light and dark contrast. Interior Sunset, Boy at Window and Day Street represent direct studies of the behavior of daylight as it screams or whispers into lovingly constructed human enclosures. Natural light is more conveniently scrutinized as scientifically observed phenomena within the safe, controlled and predictable confines of home --- however paradoxical that objective goal, within the subjective environment, sounds.

CC: How would you describe your artistic style? How has your style developed over time?

GS: I have never thought much about style. I was never interested in making a consciously distorted reference to what I was seeing. To this day, I do not know how to willfully summon invention as I work. I am attracted to certain images and objects as they introduce themselves to my eyes, imagination and memory. I also strongly identify with certain materials. My paintings are realistic, yet more circumscribed and hermetically iconic than a direct translation. They are predominantly paintings that happen to be "of" something. Over time, I would say that my appreciation of the materials and processes I am using, and the deliberate adjustments (especially of color and depth of field) at my disposal, have led to a more recognizable interest in the patterns of energy embedded in subject matter and my own movements. The ultimate abstractness in the parts and the whole of a painting are always in my thoughts now.

CC: From where do you draw inspiration for your work? What inspired the pieces in this exhibition?

GS: I inevitably draw inspiration from the visual feast around me. I still vividly recall, from my days in the first grade, several beautiful drawings hanging in the high-ceilinged hallway of my old school building. I clearly remember wanting to “do that.” My mother drew with me at home, but although none of my friends or other acquaintances (until I got to 7th grade) knew how to draw, I could tell that they instinctively respected the ability. Even after photography and all the other advances in image making, there remains a literal power in being able to literally translate the world around me by directly utilizing body, brain and paint. Somewhere between wanting to achieve the verisimilitude of a perfect hologram, and recognizing the inherent, ghostly powers of obviously-painted objects, I do what I can, hope for expansion and growth, and keep working. Vermeer, Hopper, Kollwitz, A. Neel and L. Freud inspire me. I naturally love galleries and museums. There are dozens of other inspiring artists too numerous to mention. When I look at others’ work though, it can get to be too much of a good thing and I get off my own path. I have my own itch to scratch.

CC: Is there anything you want people to know about you or your work?

GS: There are, for lack of a better word, aesthetic moments practically everyone has in this life. You feel suddenly and (probably temporarily) smarter. As an artist, I want to invite as many of those moments as possible and commit them to memory for as long as possible.

- - - - -
Gary Paul Stutler - Artist Statement

Every living thing exhibits pattern in either growth or habit. Any subject is acceptable for study, any technique or material acceptable for making a new form.

In the tremendous flux of experiences, there is only one thing which has ever brought me a moment of peace – drawing and painting from life.

I have never been able (because my work is so categorically realistic) to reject recognizable subject matter. As much as the process of manipulating materials creates the actual work, an emotional or intellectual homage to subject persists in me. There is undoubtedly a narrative, but I specialize in making marks on a surface rather than words on a page.

Having said all this, the ironic truth is that the most satisfying pictures I make are as inscrutable as the subjects that inspire them.

Gary Paul Stutler - Brief Profile

Contemporary realist, Gary Stutler, is a native of Galesburg, Illinois, and an MFA graduate from the University of California, Davis. He currently teaches painting and drawing at Napa Valley College, and has his studio at his home in nearby Vallejo, California. His work has been exhibited widely in numerous parts of the United States as well as around the world. Gary has won many awards and honors for his artistic achievements.
Return to Still Point Art Gallery

Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
December 2, 2009


  1. Bonjour,
    Les principes d'utilisation de négatifs (tous types) vous sont ils connus en matière d'arts plastiques?
    cordialement, philippe rivrain

  2. Philippe,

    Je suis désolé, pour le retard dans la réponse, mais j'ai vu vos commentaries jus’que aujourd’hui. Si vous souhaitez discuter de mon travail plus loin, vous êtes bienvenue à communiquer-vous avec moi, en accédant à la page "Contact" dans mon site Web : http://www.garystutler.com/page9/page9.php.