‘Curiously realistic, yet abstract’

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  • The artist, Mel McCuddin, and one of his paintings. (Courtesy photos)

  • 1

    “The Big Mistake” Mel McCuddin, 2018 Oil, 40 x 44 inches

  • 2

    “Cowboy Without a Horse” Mel McCuddin, 2018 Oil, 22 x 24 inches

  • 3

    “Trojan Horse” Mel McCuddin, 2018 Oil, 20 x 28 inches

  • The artist, Mel McCuddin, and one of his paintings. (Courtesy photos)

  • 1

    “The Big Mistake” Mel McCuddin, 2018 Oil, 40 x 44 inches

  • 2

    “Cowboy Without a Horse” Mel McCuddin, 2018 Oil, 22 x 24 inches

  • 3

    “Trojan Horse” Mel McCuddin, 2018 Oil, 20 x 28 inches

Artist Mel McCuddin has returned to the Coeur d’Alene art space this month with 40 new works.

At 86 years of age, McCuddin has a solid fan club. Collectors swoon over the work of this humble, soft-spoken figurative oil painter from Millwood, Wash.

McCuddin is well known for his unconventional subjects that are curiously realistic yet abstract. These subjects are not predetermined, but instead discovered on the canvas during the process. A hint of an image sparks inspiration, a unique idea develops, and the narrative unfolds.

After applying thick paint to a freshly stretched canvas, McCuddin smears the paint using rags, a thick brush, and his fingers. Once the canvas is dry, the artist pulls up a chair in the quiet solitude of his studio to observe. There he waits for an image to emerge.

He turns the canvas, once, twice, three times or more.

“I wait and see what the painting suggests, and when I first find the image, that’s the exciting part,” McCuddin says. “In general, my subjects are inspired by human experience, both good and bad, as it offers an endless amount of material. Most compositions relate to politics, human actions, and relationships.”

Uninhibited style defines McCuddin’s paintings. Each piece is loose, never overworked, instead showing drips, splatters, layers upon layers of paint, even scraps of canvas and worn blue jeans work together enhancing the visual interest.

“I don’t like to get too tight,” admits McCuddin. “Sometimes there are a lot of layers. All that paint adds to the painting eventually. It adds texture.”

Active in the regional art scene since the 1960s, McCuddin began his artistic journey by dabbling with extra house paint gifted to him by a friend.

Working as a deliveryman for Early Dawn Dairy to support his family, the artist would retreat to his studio each night after dinner to perfect his craft.

Initially his early paintings were abstract expressionist, following the lead of Willem de Kooning and other artists at the time.

Over time he has developed a unique uninhibited style, combining elements from multiple influences – unusual color combinations from James Brooks, texture from Tapies, and old masters’ figurative forms from Odd Nerdrum.

McCuddin’s work will be exhibited at The Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d’Alene through Nov. 10.

The gallery has represented McCuddin’s works since 2004.

•••

Source: The Art Spirit Gallery

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