The color blue plays prominently in Kevin LePrince's new oil paintings on show in October at Reinert LePrince Fine Art.
For years, the South Carolina native has heard from collectors that they can recognize a LePrince painting by the shades of blue that he uses. The title of this grouping, Blue, seems apropos in describing a key theme connecting the pieces, and it gives the artist the ability to paint underwater fish scenes.
“When I think of blue,” LePrince says,”I think of fun things like the beach and scuba diving.”
Another key element of the new work is LePrince's push toward thicker, heavier, broken brushstrokes that imbue the paintings with energy. About 95 percent of the painting Feeling Cranky was accomplished with royal-type blues coupled with muted gray. The loose, tonalized piece is absent of edges on some sides and contains more semi-broken strokes than in other examples. It's also more expressionistic and a bit abstract, which marks a slight shift for the artist.
The impetus for Feeling Cranky came while LePrince was the featured artist at this year's Beaufort Wine and Food Weekend held in April in Beaufort, North Carolina. During his reign at the festival, he encountered this trio of seagulls on the beach fighting and stealing food from one another.
“I took 1,000 photos of these seagulls. There's a lot of character and fun personalities you can see,” LePrince muses. “You feel a certain sense of a conversation taking place between these characters.”
Another hallmark of LePrince's paintings is his use of diverse-sized panels, which he cuts and makes himself. Both Hot Pursuit and Loaded represent the challenge of this format.
In the past, LePrince says, he would be more focused on getting the color on and “now there's a definite interest in the focal point of the painting, so the strokes and texture lead you in.” The effect is quite apparent in these two examples in which everything is exploding away from the point of interest.
“The direction of the brushstrokes is just as important as the choice of color,” he adds, “and this has become clearer in my head.”