As a Salt Lake City native, Paul Reynolds has gone to great lengths to find solitude as an artist. After his formal college education and a stint teaching kids with disabilities, Reynolds relocated to Port Townsend in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. What might seem like a primal form of living, more like “living off the grid” these days, was a paradise and creative sanctuary for Reynolds who enjoyed living on the water.
“I was the caretaker of a tiny cabin that had no electricity or water. I had to carry in my water and use a kerosene lamp,” said Reynolds, of his Pacific Northwest stay where he would later meet and marry his wife Gretchen around Seattle as she attended University of Washington. “A long time ago, the area I lived in Port Townsend was a Jesuit retreat and the cabin I later stayed in was what they originally used as a changing room for the beach.”
But with settling down and starting a family, Reynolds returned to Utah with his wife and daughter. And since the 1990s, Paul and Gretchen have been artists using many different forms and styles the past 25 years when they decided to make Salt Lake City home.
In his most recent exhibit on display in the Finch Lane Gallery called Line Paintings, Reynolds admits this project is his among the most difficult collection of paintings he has ever done. He describes the endeavor as a complete about-face from his earlier work of drawing, painting, figurative stylings and even a decade-long stint as a photographer.
“My objective was and has been to push abstract expressionism. In the past all my pieces have been very busy [visually] with a lot going on. This [Line Drawings] has allowed me to simplify and change direction as an artist,” said Reynolds.
In Line Paintings, Reynolds applies paint with rags onto rectangular, birch panels. The way he describes the art from conception to completion is starting with a base or ground and mixing colors that show no brush strokes whatsoever. He noted that he could have easily used an airbrush and it would have made it easier, but then again, when it comes to creativity and trial and error, Reynolds knew that he wanted to give the works a more human feel. And while the oil and graphite is still wet, he gets one shot to draw a line or series of lines with a big, thick drawing pencil. Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails, but he is always looking to push the creative envelope.
“The lines on my paintings are “blind-drawn” or created as I am turned away from the object. I try to come up with these ideas on different movements that will generate what I consider to be good lines,” said Reynolds. “Abstract painting simply does not do it for a lot of people. I think there are many people that might look at the work and think they could create something similar in five minutes. What’s surprising to me is how many people have reacted positively to the work and like the paintings as much as they do.”
Perhaps the best way to take in Reynolds’ work is to look at the title of each piece. From “Running into a Box” to “Around My Back,” it’s interesting to try and conceptualize exactly how he went about creating the line or lines in each drawing.
When he’s not in his studio, Reynolds works at the Salt Lake City Library at the reference desk in what he describes as the best sales job in the world. “I get to sell people things they can take away for free and bring back when they are done. I also do the art programming which allows me to carefully curate different film, dance and music in a monthly series called “12 Minutes Max.”
Line Paintings will be on display at the Finch Lane Gallery until November 16, 2018. To learn more about 12 Minutes Max, please visit the Salt Lake City Public Library website.