Tracy Felix Artist Review
The Western interpretation of landscape painting had new noticeable influences and major contrasts from the Asian landscape paintings that came before. Most notably was the low position landscape painting occupied in the Western art world until the 19th century. The natural world was certainly present in the art world previously, however the landscapes and natural elements always acted as secondary focuses for artists who’s primary focus was on the human influence in the landscapes they occupied. From these history focused paintings, landscape painting branched off and became its own valued artistic subject matter in the West. In the United States, the Hudson River School which was prominent in the middle to late 19th century is possibly the best-known native development in landscape art. This mid century art movement depicted American landscapes such as the Hudson River Valley, the Catskills and the Adirondack mountains. Similarly to Eastern Asian landscapes, these paintings were created to evoke an emotional response from the viewer and not to simply serve as a place for man to occupy. These depictions of the American Landscape depict places where nature and humans can coexist and idealized portrayals of nature.
Home In The Woods, 1847
The American Regionalist movement bridged the gap between realism and abstract expressionism in the 1930’s. The artwork of the Regionalists depicted realistic scenes of rural small-town America as a response to the Great Depression. While some Regionalist artists focused on sense of nationalism, others sought to make political statements for revolutionary and radical causes. Artist’s such as Grant Wood, John Stewart Curry and Bernice Bergman captured the American human existence and what everyday life looked like.
John Steuart Curry
Tracy Felix takes inspiration from both the Hudson River School and the American Regionalist movement. In his highly stylized and surreal landscapes, beauty and majesty is idealized and heightened in a new interpretation of the philosophy of the Hudson River School. Tracy also walks the line between realism and abstract expressionism much like the American Regionalists. He paints scenes from real Colorado, but with artistic license to accentuate, exaggerate and highlight the natural beauty of it’s landscapes.
Principals of Art:
Space: Space is demonstrated to create dimension in the composition. Tracy creates space in his work through layers of different imagery and a sky full of clouds. In Sundial Peak you can see how the lake in the foreground sits almost unnoticed before the massive peak which in turns leads to the sky and clouds above. These changes in perspective create space in the composition.
Color: Tracy works in a recognizable color pallet that is characteristic in almost all of his landscape paintings. This cool color pallet of blues, greens, whites and browns sets a mood of tranquility and peace.
Shape: Shape plays a large roll in Tracy’s landscapes. His curving and stylized line work gives way to shapes that are fanciful and surreal. In Sundial Peak notice the whimsical shapes of the clouds and how they relate to the shapes of the mountain and lake which wave and curve similarly.
Form: Circle is to shape as sphere is to form. Smooth and defined shadows make Tracy’s paintings feel so realistic they seem to physically pop off the canvas at the viewer. These shadows indicate the directionality of the light source and create depth and dimension in the form.
Value: Value relates to the tint/shade of a hue (color). Every color can be tinted by adding white or shaded by adding black. The purpose of considering value in a painting is to help create both dimension and a mood. Value changes are present to show the directionality of the light source and create dimension. Tracy’s changes in value are crisp and defined adding to the stylized nature of his painting style.
Texture: Tracy paints so incredibly smooth you could be forgiven for thinking it had been airbrushed. Texture is created visually with details of trees, ripples on water, and cracks on rock surfaces.
Line: The stylized line work in Tracy’s work is highly detailed and intricate. From the tiny trees to the large swooping clouds, lines are exaggerated and amplified. The variation of line use adds visual interest, as well as prompts the eye to move about the composition.
Principals of Design:
Balance: Tracy utilizes artistic license to change the proportions of his landscapes and offers him the opportunity to balance the composition. In Sundial Peak you can see how Tracy works the three to one ratio with most of the details existing in the bottom two thirds of the painting balanced against the less detailed upper third.
Unity: The unity of a piece is what creates a sense of completeness. A cohesive color pallet and continuation of stylization ties Tracy’s paintings together as well as his entire body of work.
Variety: Variety is what adds interest into a work of art. There is variety in the details and proportions of Tracy’s paintings. This variety offers endless visual exploration and opportunities to appreciate and take in the many intricacies and details of Tracy’s compositions.
Emphasis: Emphasis is what the artist uses to create a focal point. Focal points can vary viewer to viewer, but a truly successful composition will have one clear focal point that the eye is continually drawn to over and over again. The mountains of Tracy’s landscapes often serve as the most prominent focal point due to their scale and shadow work.
Movement: Movement implies motion is a snapshot of time. In Sundial Peak the clouds show movement as they slither, cascade and weave around the sky and mountains.
Pattern: Think of pattern as the visual skeleton that organizes the parts of a composition. This underlying structure uses consistent and regular repetition. You can have both natural and man made pattern. Tracy repeats imagery into subtle patterns, for instance the round clouds that float up the sky in Sundial Peak.
Perspective: Perspective is what creates a three dimensional painting vs a two dimensional painting. Perspectives are altered and heightened in Tracy’s surreal landscapes. In Sundial Peak the viewer looks up onto the mountains and far away into the sky. These rapid perspective changes create depth in the composition.
Tracy paints with oils on panel, a traditional favorite for many painters. Oil paints, which are oil based as the name suggests, have a long drying time. This is advantageous to artists who will work on a piece for an extended amount of time. Oil paints are thinned down with terpenoids which can take the paint from thick and heavy to thin and light. An artist who uses oil paints learns over time their own tricks to work in a way that makes the most sense for their composition. It takes time, patience and practice to master this difficult medium.
Tracy paints on a wooden panel in place of canvas. Wood panels have the advantage of a sturdy and flat surface to work upon. This surface helps Tracy achieve the details in his work and he does not have to fight the bounce of a canvas. Lastly, Tracy applies a varnish once his paintings are completed and dry. The varnish will protect the oil paints to last hundred of years.