Works by Craig Palmer
The exhibit features Craig Palmer’s large-scale abstract paintings.
(March 2, 2022) M A R A Art Studio + Gallery presents “About Face,” featuring large-scale contemporary abstracts by Craig Palmer, April 1-29. The opening reception is Friday, April 1, 5:30-7 p.m., and is sponsored by HALO Arts Project. The gallery is at 1421 5th Street, Suite A, Sarasota. For more information, call (941) 914-8110 or visit MaraStudioGallery.com.
Craig Palmer is a classically trained artist who spent more than 30 years specializing in traditional oil portraits. After decades of soul searching, he began to explore the integration of realism and abstraction by taking the skills and knowledge he learned as a realistic artist and applying them to abstract painting.
“As I evolved as an artist, I began to see the world through a new and exciting lens,” says Palmer. “I discovered I could apply the traditional techniques that I was trained in, which at times felt constrictive, and learn to enjoy the playfulness of creating large format abstract concepts. Instead of rendering the life out of my subjects, I attempt to capture the spirit and soul of whatever I paint.” He adds that the work in this exhibit is “a culmination of my journey from portrait painter to an abstract artist.”
Mara Torres González, who opened M A R A Art Studio + Gallery in downtown Sarasota’s Rosemary District in 2020, says she’s delighted to show Palmer’s work. “Craig creates paintings that reflect his love for the environment by utilizing the colors, shapes and textures found in nature,” she says. “We can’t wait to share his more recent works with the public.”
Craig Palmer graduated from Parsons School of Design as an illustration major in 1983. His first regular portrait commissions came from painting portraits of NYC police officers on their retirement. His work in those early years was dedicated to creating highly detailed renderings from photographic references using acrylics and a finely sharpened pencil. He was coloring between the lines and was applauded for it. That’s the kind of work that got him his first full-time job as a commercial illustrator at a daily newspaper. While the job was exciting and exhilarating, he was never truly inspired as an artist; he was just “coloring between the lines and it was just work.” Eventually, Palmer met Tom Buechner, an acclaimed artist, who became his mentor. Palmer says Buechner taught him that “painting is simple. All you need to do is take the perfect color, put it in the perfect place with the perfect stroke and you have a great painting.” Palmer says that, although that’s always his goal, he spent more years with a “love/hate relationship with art. I couldn’t shake my dependence upon detail, over rendering everything.” After decades of soul searching, Palmer did what he thought he could never do… Craig created his first abstract painting. “Finally, at age 60, I am coloring outside the lines. My artistic life has come full circle.”
Torres González explains that her gallery is also “a home for workshops, classes and special events and celebrations. I strongly believe in the power of community. We keep our doors open to regional artists.” M A R A Art Studio + Gallery showcases a powerful range of homegrown talents, including Lisa DiFranza, Grace Howl, Midge Johnson, Craig Palmer, Ralph Berger and David Erdman and others. González adds that she is currently looking for new artists to join the gallery.