Donald Spencer

Donald Spencer attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and Cooper School of Art in Cleveland, Ohio before earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and entering New York University for graduate study in art education. He received a fellowship to paint in NYC under the sponsorship of the Whitney Museum of American Art and later worked under the private tutelage of Donn Steward, a master print-maker at Universal Limited Art Editions. His paintings were the recent subject of a Parson's New School for Design article by color theory lecturer and author Marcie Cooperman. His 2013 painting “Labyrinth” was recently awarded the highest recognition by an international panel of judges representing International Contemporary Art and Sculpture (ICAS). This award brought with it exhibition opportunities in London. His work has been exhibited in USA galleries, museums and universities. Spencer's recent paintings are rooted in the energy and experimentation found in abstract expressionism. As an artist, he frequently merges classic painting and printmaking techniques to produce dynamic and beautiful paintings of extraordinary depth, subtlety, richness of color and striking luminosity.

How does Donald create these intricate colors? He says: "While sculptors free images by removing extraneous material, painters have traditionally built images by adding and manipulating the painting medium. My approach to painting is somewhat unorthodox in that it usually involves both the subtraction of material almost as much as the addition. Most of my recent paintings weave materials together in ways that build a subtle surface topography. This uneven surface may then be added to, or subtracted from, in selected areas and the process can be repeated many times to create interlaced strata of opaque, translucent and transparent paint.
On a few occasions I have used fine sand mixed with acrylic medium, but most often I prefer using fine marble dust with clear or pigmented acrylic resin. These materials may then be applied to the canvas many different ways. After the acrylic resin fully dries, about 3-7 days, I might choose to burnish parts of the painting surface to build deep luster and translucency. Sometimes I also use ultra-fine sandpaper that was engineered to polish things like telescope lenses. These painting methods enable me to thin the surface paint and produce subtleties of transitioning color and image that are not possible using a brush, or even airbrush".

Color, line, proportion, location of color – all are important in creating the types of movement and energy we have seen in these paintings. Donald Spencer has spent a lifetime exploring the possibilities, and he has come up with the key to life – energy.