Visual Arts


Blue Collar on Veridian and Vermillion by Will Locke

Will Locke has lived in Ringgold, Georgia most of his 32 years. Graduating from Ringgold High School in 2004, he worked blue collar jobs while earning an Associates degree from Dalton State, returning in his late 20s to get his B.A. in History.

A childhood interest in artistic expression was bolstered by public school art classes, but the desire to put oil to canvas was given impetus by a 2012 voluntary working tour of Israel, which left him with “more thoughts than words could express.”

For Will, “...painting has become more than an obsession. Starting out as something like escapism or even stress relief, the ‘hobby’ is now a consuming lifestyle. I work part-time as a window cleaner so I can have time to learn, develop, and experiment, specifically with this artistic medium.”

Self-taught, Will learned by studying paintings online. “Google Images became my curriculum and the paintings themselves were my texts.” It was a natural course for a mind steeped in historical research and practical how-to. “Over the past five or six years I've tried to absorb the basic tenets of each modern art movement or 'ism', and then apply those ideas and approaches to my own artistic output.”

A fan of Modern Art, he cites Marc Chagall as “the gateway,” having been introduced to Chagall by his high school art teacher, Dr. Larry Bunch. Will’s most significant influences are (in no particular order) Chagall, Paul Klee, Milton Avery, Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri Matisse. He is seeking “a 21st century synthesis” of many of the earlier modern artists.

Will’s main focus is to explore the possibilities of color.

“As an amateur, using the cheapest brands and materials, the results are often muddled, kitschy, and off-putting. However, my belief in the infinite, and therefore supernatural/divine, nature of color, allows for frequent happy accidents.”

With exposure to contemporary theories of color (crediting Hans Hoffman, Mark Rothko, and Josef Albers), Will began to “construct [his] pictures with liberal amounts of simultaneous contrasts.” The vibration between complementary colors (Op artists use the term 'flickering') became the most interesting thing I could do on canvas. Since color itself is infinite, this sort of experimentation has no end.”

“On themes and subject matter, my own Christian worldview harmonizes with this technical process and result. Beginning with a simple, childlike drawing (like Klee or Chagall), I move quickly to color choices, with the goal of completing the entire picture within a few hours (like Pollock and action painters). Often times the impetus for a picture is a new experiment with one or more complementary pairs. The decision is made based on which colors will vibrate the most when juxtaposed without any other demarcation, neutralization, or diffusion. Because of the human eye's perception of after-image and its difficulty comprehending two complementaries simultaneously, the colors flash. Literally.

As a deeply spiritual person, this physical phenomenon works as an apt metaphor. Just as the German Expressionists and others were trying to create an alternate perception of reality in regards to the human psyche, the vibration and flashing of colors reveals (to me) something more supernatural. When I think of God and Satan, angels and demons, in more physical terms as our physical eyes could perceive them, I always imagine electricity and flashing lights. So in each picture, whether coal miner or dinosaur or colorscape, the presence of a spiritual reality is always within and on the surface.

But experimentation is not enough. Each picture must have the ability to communicate. Like Rothko, my hope is that the reader of any of my pictures will have some sort of emotional response.

The basic idea of remaining somewhere in between abstraction and representation (credit to Avery) allows for humanity. If the picture has heart and soul, then it is a success.”


Opening July 13th: Phyllis Burkhart Wilson and Lana Wilson

The Creative Arts Guild will be hosting Mother-Daughter Artist Duo, Phyllis Burkhart Wilson and Lana Wilson, during the month of July in our Jonas Hall. Collectively, these two artists have been making art for over 50 years — and we're excited to be able to present their work side-by-side for the first time.

About Phyllis Burkhart Wilson:

My career as an artist grew out of a deep appreciation for the arts. In 1983, I began to experiment with ink, graphic pencils, and watercolors. Being able to express my innermost spirit with the elements of painting is an exhilarating experience, a gift from God. Natural settings and music inspire me to create contemporary paintings using watercolors and colored pencils. My paintings have been chosen to be included in numerous juried regional exhibitions by extraordinary art professionals and are also in included in many private collections.

About Lana Wilson:

My works represent a very contemporary approach to painting. In an unorthodox approach, the act of making art becomes more important than the actual image. I am involved in each creation by responding to forms which develop images over images, lines, spacial formats, and colors pleasing to the eye and stimulating to the mind.