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 Mark Workman  (1960 - )

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: sunset landscapes, still life

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Ad Code: 4
Mark Workman
from Auction House Records.
Tree Branch by Moonlight
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Acrylic painter of romantic sunset landscapes, Mark Workman was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1960 and completed his B.F.A. degree from the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1982.

Workman paints the rural Pennsylvania landscape, emphasizing poetic vistas and atmospheric perspectives leading into vast distance and skies that take up most of the picture space. The artist seems to prefer, although certainly not exclusively, horizontal paintings with extreme dimensions like "Homestretch," 13 x 72, depicting late sunset farmland with a close-up road on the right and a twinkling of lights from scattered farmhouses tiny in the distance.

Workman paints exclusively from photographs in his studio. "When the lighting is just right, it inspires me," he says. That light is the fleeting, ephemeral light of dusk and dawn, which photographer's refer to as "magic time." It "usually lasts about fifteen minutes, and the cloud formations don't even last that long. I use the camera to compose the subject and to record the quality of light that transformed it."

Because Workman shoots slide film, light often becomes a factor in how he selects the images that ultimately become paintings. Once he has determined what to paint, the artist decides on size. Because he most often works with acrylic on paper, rather than on canvas, he buys rolls of Arches 150-lb cold-pressed watercolor paper, 51" x 30', which he cuts to the desired size. He then wets both sides of the paper and staples it to a piece of plywood painted to match the color of the paper as closely as possible.

After the paper has dried, the artist uses a slide projector to project the image on the paper, sketching in the components. "I exclude some elements to simplify the composition. I also compose paintings from different photographsa sky from this one, a landscape from that one."

Next, he applies frisket or masking tape to the areas where he wants either to show the white of the paper or to apply pure color. Then he applies his first layer of acrylic, often using a pale-yellow gradational wash from the bottom of the painting up. This wash is the first of many colors that he uses throughout the painting process and is one of the reasons he uses acrylic.

"It's fast-drying and permanent. I can totally wet it again once it's dry and it won't change. It's like the glazing technique with oil." Why not use oil then? "I've found that working with acrylic on paper gives me the atmospheric effect I'm after better than anything else I've ever used. Mist, fog and haze are aspects of atmosphere that I like to paint."

He frequently uses 20 or 30 washes of color in a sky alone, and for this area of a painting in particular, he typically works wet-in-wet. "The question is always how wet for which kind of edge or surface.It relates to how transitions occur between land and sky or between clouds and the rest of the sky. I spend a lot of time trying to get blurred edges. That's what adds perspective." Once the sky is complete, Workman starts the landscape at the horizon line, working forward in space, layering washes in the same way he paints the sky.

The artist estimates that he spends a minimum of three weeks on his smaller paintings, and up to a year and a half on his larger ones. "It's not non-stop, of course. I'll work on a larger painting for awhile, then put it aside until I regain the interest or the energy to go back to it." He typically has as many as four pieces in progress at once.

"I seek a balance between texture and smoothness, near and far, dark and light. I also try to strike a balance between commercial appeal while remaining true to my vision. You must paint for yourself. Even when I do paintings that are geared toward the art market, I find ways to inject my style and personality."

Selected Exhibitions:
2002 Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, New York City (solo exhibit)
Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pa (solo exhibit)
2001 M.A. Doran Gallery, Tulsa, OK
Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
2000 Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster, PA (solo exhibit)
Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA (solo exhibit)
1999 Fischbach Gallery, New York City (solo exhibit)
1998 M.A. Doran Gallery, Tulsa, OK
1997 Fischbach Gallery, New York City (solo exhibit)
1994 Fischbach Gallery, New York City (solo exhibit)
Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences, Peoria, IL
Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
1993 Fischbach Gallery, New York City, (solo exhibit)
Springfield Art Museum, Springfield (solo exhibit)
1990 Millport Museum, Lititz, PA (2 artist exhibit)
Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA (solo exhibit)
1986 Demuth Foundation, Lancaster, Pa
1983 Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Selected Grants and Honors:
2001 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Special Opportunity Stipend
1996 E.D. Foundation, Visual Arts Fellowship Grant
1991 Elected to Watercolor U.S.A. Honor Society
1987 Lancaster City Arts Grant

Selected Bibliography:
Mark Workman: Fields of Vision, Exhibition Catalog, Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, 2002 16 pages
Lancaster County Magazine, June 2001, cover, pp 32-35, 61, 62, 64
Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA) Happenings Magazine, 3/3/00, Color cover, pp 10, 11
Lancaster New Era, Weekend Magazine, March 2, 2000, color cover, p. 6
The Best of Sketching and Drawing, Rockport Press, 1999, p. 92
William and Mary Review, College of William and Mary, Volume 37, 1999, p. 2 Review Magazine, October 1999, p. 34
ArtNews, March 1998, pp. 150-152
The Artist and the American Landscape, First Glance Books, 1998, p. 37
Watercolor Magic, Winter, 1997, pp. 14-15
Lancaster Sunday News, March 16, 1997, p. B-3
Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA) Happenings Magazine, Jan. 5, 1996, p. 8
Watercolor Magazine, spring 1995, pp. 58-61
William and Mary Review, College of William and Mary, volume 33, 1995, p. 9
The New York Review of Art, December 1994
Neighbors Magazine (Lancaster, PA) Oct. 12, 1994, p. 3
Readers Digest, August 1994, color cover (back)
ArtNews, May 1993, pp. 137, 138
Lancaster County Magazine, 1991, pp. 38, 39, 45
Lancaster Sunday News, July 1, 1990 p. H-1

Source: Elizabeth Forst, Watercolor Magazine, Fall 2002
And internet: http://www.theframingconcept.com/workmanindexpage.htm

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