Cadmium red light is a vibrant orange-red hue found naturally in such things as a sunlit autumn maple leaf. For artist Neil Fenton, using the synthesized paint color helps details pop in many of his paintings.
"It's electric," he says. "Of course, I like all of the colors, but cadmium red light is my favorite. I always have a jar of it."
Fenton, also consistent with contributions to local group exhibits, will open his second solo show, taking over the wall space at Swirl's new wine bar next month with more than 50 pieces. The 30-year-old grew up surrounded by art, with potter parents and a strong three-dimensional art background.
"I worked my way through without a degree," he says. "I don't think it's necessarily the most important thing to have. What makes an artist is hard work, determination and reading a lot and doing research on artists and movements and techniques."
After spending several years working as a sculptural bronze artist, Fenton now works as assistant manager at Meininger art supply store and says he loves being able to follow his passion for art every day.
"I'm just a working artist," he says. "My paintings are form-driven. I like working up layers and using a palette knife to add a lot of textures."
Known around town for his "Guernicar" with a Picasso-inspired paint job, Fenton's heavy strokes contrast with his bold, bright color choices, and the abstract forms he paints often yield to human figures.
"I don't believe in abstraction for abstraction's sake," he says. "I often find a connection with an image, even abstract ones, specifically the human form or heads and things like that."
While he usually works with oils, this show will feature a large selection of new works done in acrylic, due to its faster drying time. Fenton only had three months to create the array of new pieces, which are paired with a handful of older works.
"With this show I've been focusing on my relationship with color and exploring color," he says. "I'm coming into my own as far as figuring out what my own style is. What draws me to painting is the continued exploration and constant growth and development."
Fenton says that one of the hardest parts of painting is determining when to stop. "I do like the unfinished look, the kinetic energy [the paintings] have," he says. "I work from [a] place of spontaneity and subconscious."
Fenton also leaves his pieces untitled in order to free the viewer from having any preconceived notions about the piece.
"I've already imposed a visual interpretation of it on whoever is viewing it, so I don't need to title it too," he says. "I'd rather let the image stand for itself and let the viewer interpret what they want of it."