Curt Butler, Shallows
Curt Butler is a contemporary artist who works out of North Carolina. He attended Kent State University and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Some of Butler's work is figurative, mostly landscapes and nature scenes, but a lot of his work exhibits a more tenuous relationship between the appearance of the subject and the appearance of the painting. To me, this work is significantly more effective. Butler's work is not abstract, for the figurative subject remains visible, but the scene appears veiled and distorted. Butler achieves this effect through the use of mixed media, specifically oil and encaustic. Encaustic means the application of hot wax mixed with the pigments, and in Butler's case he also scrapes away some of the wax with a palette knife. This is what gives his pieces that worked over appearance, and the fractured space that significantly contributes to the visual interest of his work. Shallows is perhaps Butler's most successful piece. It presents its subject of lake and surroundings, but offers significantly more. The piece might first appear abstract, but as the subject emerges, we see a complex relationship between space, color, and paint. The scene appears through a grimy window or hazy veil. The scene appears to be melting, as the paints blend and change in contact with the wax.