Cynthia Duff Showing in Vail April 05 2015
Organic. Unique. Contemporary. Classic. Combined, each adjective perfectly sums up the work of Cynthia Duff. Her wooden canvases literally pop off of the wall. Each piece undulates with a perfect combination of form, color and composition. Duff's show, hanging at the Art on a Whim gallery, presents a wondrous experience of discovering what can be accomplished when an artist steps outside of the box and literally bends their medium in new directions.
Duff says, “I start my work with this raw magnificent inspiration. I visualize it... I become one with it. I use music, color, subject, shape and line to help me orchestrate my art. Once the work has started it follows a journey of its own. My inner self must be allowed to flow and create. I am often amazed at the results."Working with wood seemed to come by accident for Duff. Years ago, she was invited to display her work in a show titled “Bent.” Duff searched far and wide for a manufacturer or a DIY method to bend canvas into a rounded form. Without the means to manipulate canvas in such a manner, she turned to wood. Today, she has gained worldwide acclaim for creating a series of work that adds an incredible amount of natural beauty to the spaces it decorates.
Duff’s work begins with picking a flat piece of birch wood. She carefully mixes a combination of acrylics and wood stains to both add color to the piece and enhance the beautiful wood grains that are already inherent in it. Duff’s use of layered gold leaf provides an elegant and stunning shine to the top layers of each contemporary painting. Fracturing, a technique she developed to highlight the intricacy of her work, allows for color blocking to come in swirling, seemingly dancing, patterns. In her landscapes, the technique allows her to present different parts of the day within the same painting by slicing the composition into sections.
A major piece included in Duff's current show, measuring 60" x 60", is titled "Glades of the Gore." The painting is a perfect example of her fracturing process. The majestic Gore Range stands tall above an aspen and spruce covered hillside hidden somewhere on Vail mountain. The peaks are bathed in a glorious alpenglow while the rest of the painting shifts seamlessly between morning, afternoon and nighttime light. Interestingly, the painting was done with a combination of brushes and hotel room key cards. Duff collects key cards from her travels throughout the world. They were laying around her studio one day and seemed like they would add another dimension to her painting technique. As evidenced in "Glades of the Gore," they worked perfectly.
While most artists would be content to stop with a perfectly composed painting, Duff’s work is only part done. She hand shapes each piece of painted wood into three-dimensional, rounded curves. As viewer’s walk past her work different parts of the painting appear. Looking at each piece changes dramatically depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The curves mimic the shape of the tree trunk upon which she has painted, breathing life back into the tree. With Colorado being such an outdoorsy state, the wooden canvases speak to the pristine environment in which Duff resides.In Duff's abstracts, the colors contrast and blend beautifully throughout the piece. Much of her recent work has focused on abstraction. She says, “I love painting landscapes but when I begin an abstract composition the colors and shapes start dancing in front of me. I paint with music on and I’m sure that has something to do with it. Historically I have created more landscapes, figurative and wildlife work but at the moment I am having so much fun with shapes. As much as I plan each piece, the final result of every abstracted painting is still a surprise to me.”
Duff demonstrated her work and explaining her process in the Art on a Whim gallery in Vail this March. With several significant sales so far, this is a show worth seeing. Duff says, "God gives you a gift and to me part of my gift is to bring pleasure to people through their eyes. The gallery is a happy sanctuary to view, be inspired and bring that joy back home."