Meyer East Gallery
|To view artist Michael Workman's paintings is to spend a quiet moment in a serene locale, where life?s rough edges are somehow absorbed. Workman's rural landscapes are subtle yet powerful, evoking strong emotions in those who experience their silent wonder. Whether it is a silvery evening slipping soundlessly into the dusk or a bashful sun, tentatively extending its rays across a vast green pasture awake but still yawning, Workman's tonal paintings create a mood that is both mysterious and compelling, yet never disquieting. His color, texture and light are soft and harmonious, creating a dreamy effect.
The artist's natural talent was evident at an early age. ?As a kindergartner, I remember bringing art work home with the adults commenting: "He's very talented," Workman recalls. "I didn't know that I would make a living at art until I was in my twenties. This is the thing I've been best at." He studied painting and drawing at Brigham Young University, where he received his B.F.A. and M.F.A.
While still in school, Workman gave a lot of thought to what art meant to him personally. "I remember as a graduate student that there was an emphasis on contemporary art. A lot of contemporary art focuses on the negative. I decided early on that it doesn't take a lot of courage to emphasize the negative," he says. "I struggle with being positive; it doesn't come naturally to me."
Workman also realized that in order to distinguish his landscapes he would have to go beneath the visible surface and mine the rich emotional layers that lay below. The works of tonalist George Inness, who believed art should trigger emotions, inspired him. "Inness was very much a tonalist and a spiritual guy," Workman says. His greatest work became very spiritually oriented.? He cannot recall if he consciously set out to be a tonalist, but it seemed like a natural fit. "I once read that every painting is a self portrait."
by Josh Elliott