What: Paintings by Clayton Santiago
When: Through Aug. 9
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville
More info: 770-536-2575 or www.quinlanartscenter.org
At first glance, the paintings look like someone dipped them in water, and they’ve been hung on the wall to shed their water weight.
But then you realize the glistening drops on the paintings’ surface aren’t moving. Instead, they hover above orange and brown hues, shining in the overhead lights.
This is the murky world of Clayton Santiago, an art teacher at Gainesville’s Lakeview Academy whose show at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center draws you deep into murky colors mixed with sunset hues and the water-like effect of the epoxy on top.
But it’s not just paint that makes these worlds come to life — it’s hues of tar, too.
“All of the materials are tar and epoxy and acrylic paint,” he said. “All the browns, all the dark hues, that’s all tar.”
The effect of layers started out with plexiglass, he said, but as he began adding layer upon layer of plexiglass, the layers started to warp if they got warm. As he found out, switching to an epoxy to create the effect of depth allowed him more freedom.
“I can do more with it; I can do washes and different leaf processes to kind of support the composition or get some movement going to support the composition,” he said. “It’s a great medium for what I do.”
Currently pursuing his master’s degree from North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, Santiago said he started his art career after getting his bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College as well, moving to Atlanta to start a mural business.
While in college, he focused on realistic drawings, but by the time he graduated he had moved into painting and his new business allowed him to experiment with different kinds of washes, he said.
“And that experience in different washes and all the different techniques bled over into my paintings,” he said.
Soon, he was working on wood panels rather than canvas, which allowed him to sand it down and wouldn’t stretch.
“So, I guess working on large surfaces, I’m very comfortable with that,” Santiago said. “And my work reads better when the pieces are larger, and that guided me to where I am now.”