The intrinsic character and beauty of common objects

Ray Gülick

observing the subject with honesty and clarity

Artist Type: Painter

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Contact: Ray Gülick at (505) 577 4002


Interested in art from a very young age, I was unintentionally discouraged from pursuing an art career when my well-meaning father suggested sign-painting would be my most likely means of earning a living as an artist. Not finding that appealing, I attended college to pursue certification as a drafting and graphic arts teacher. After teaching for a few years, I realized there was such a thing as a career in graphic design, and returned to school in a commercial design program. At the end of my first year, I was offered a job as a designer, and worked as a graphic designer/art director for the next 15 years. While I soon learned that opportunities for self-expression in graphic design were few, a career in design offered plenty of opportunity to hone my sense of color and composition.

By the early 1990’s, I was the Marketing Communications Manager at a corporation, hating almost every minute of it. Eventually weaning myself from a salary and benefits, I moved to New Mexico (the least corporate place I knew) in 1999, intending to be a raft guide and get serious about painting. I got sidetracked with an opportunity to design a large corporate website, however, and started a web development company which I still operate today. In 2006, I finally began to take painting seriously, in spite of its lack of convenience.

As much as possible, I resist making painting an intellectual pursuit. My focus is on the "process" of painting: painting as meditation, a means of abandoning time and self-awareness. The painting itself is a by-product. I don't try to "say something" with my work, because that turns it into graphic design, with the requisite consideration of how to best communicate the message placing the emphasis on the end result rather than on the process of painting.

I observe my subject matter carefully, not in order to precisely render what I see (cameras do that much better), but to make note of the intrinsic character and beauty that resides in common objects, such as fruits and vegetables. I like contrast: light/dark, hard/soft, shiny/dull, warm/cool, organic/inorganic. And I like strong colors, although I am beginning to welcome more subtle colors into my palette.

My smaller paintings are usually completed in a single session, minimizing opportunities to assess, judge, and correct. I recently learned this approach is called “alla prima,” which sounds satisfyingly artsy. If all goes well, the paintings that result might or might not be sound technically, but they will be emotionally true.

As much as possible, I approach every painting with one simple goal in mind: observe the subject with honesty and clarity, without preconception. It's not as easy as it sounds. But if I can do it, I’m invariably pleased with the painting that results.