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Chris Baker

Chris Baker
Chartres Cathedral, gouache on paper

Although an accomplished painter in oil or transparent watercolor, Chris Baker’s medium of choice is gouache or, as it is often called, ‘opaque watercolor,’ because its binding agent, gum arabic, is water-soluble.  A uniquely flexible medium, gouache can be applied in a highly viscous state to build texture, or it can be diluted to create the broad washes of
color or the flowing lines which we usually associate with the watercolor medium.  Baker uses the medium to its fullest effect, combining, in a single work, a elegant drawn line with many expressive flourishes, or, as in “Homage to Ptolemy, a deeply recessive space with the inherent flatness of the watercolor surface. An avid traveler, Baker often finds his subject matter in his travels, and these are as wide-ranging as his stylistic effects.  The painter’s gaze may focus on the architectural intricacies of a door jamb, the geometrical lines of a street corner, or the grandeur of a historical monument.  But in the end result, it is a fundamental humanity which informs his images.  Baker’s world is one which is present and inhabited.. In his numerous renditions of Chartres cathedral, for example, the gothic magnificence of the cathedral is merely the backdrop for the everyday lives of those working within and around it.  Baker's paintings often convey the sense of a "snapshot": a commonplace event frozen in time. A consistent theme running through nearly all of his paintings is, in fact, the intersection between the past and the present: between the timeless and the everyday.

In creating each of these effects, the artist finds gouache a highly versatile medium. Its viscosity allows him to "draw" with his brush, producing the strong illustrationist character of the work. Yet, the medium can be applied in thin washes to create the marvelously varied tonal effects of his skies, or it can be layered on the surface to provide the resonant luminosity of Baker’s night scenes.

Chris Baker earned his Master of Fine Arts degree at Rochester Institute of Technology, studying with the late Fred Meyer. His work has been included in prestigious juried exhibitions such as the Finger Lakes Exhibition at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, the Cooperstown National, and at the Schweinfurth Museum in Auburn. He has had one-man shows at many upstate New York galleries. He has taught art in Cato, New York, for over twenty years, and in 1974 he was artist-in-residence at Letchworth State Park. Baker lives in Weedsport, New York, with his wife, Barbara.

Chris Baker
Night Run, gouache on paper

Chris Baker
Homage to Ptolemy, gouache on paper

Chris Baker
Vine Ripened

Chris Baker
Doorway in Glasgow

Chris Baker
Ravens on Salisbury Plain, gouache on paper


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