"Living Color" | Oil on Canvas | 12 x 12 inches

Illuminations: Ones to watch

Using a palette knife, Caleb Meyer brings out the texture of his subjects and the weight of their color. Based on his mood, his work veers from skyscapes and sunsets, to lazy tractors asleep next to a barn, to city nights streaked with rain.

“Sometimes I like to work a bit more abstract,” he says. “If I feel like getting more technical, it’s fun to do a challenge like an old tractor or a downtown piece with cars, people and shops; things that will be more noticeable as far as the people and perspective.”

In order to get an “of the moment” feeling, Meyer takes pictures and paints on site, but the majority of his work is done in the studio where he can control the painting and take more time with it. These smaller works feel more intuitive, less stressful and allow him to make decisions that are quicker and spontaneous. He uses both the study and his photography to help create the actual, larger painting. “With the smaller studies, I’m just having fun,” he says.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of painting for Meyer is knowing when to stop. “The more detail you add, the more life you lose,” he says. “If it’s just color and form, you can engage your own experiences. I’m somewhere in between. I’ve been doing some smaller abstract canvases and just going for it, without references, and it’s been great.”

Meyer began his artistic career as an apprentice to the painter Robert Moore, who told him that ultimately everything is abstract and the artist’s job was to bring in a few symbols and recognizable objects.

“You can have a painting that is 90 percent abstract and the 10 percent of things that are identifiable puts it all together,” Meyer says. “My grandmother, Milly Meyer, was a painter and art teacher. She encouraged Moore to study art and then, to bring it full circle, I studied with Moore.”

Moore’s work influences Meyer’s painting, most specifically in the lush use of paint on the surface. “The largest, simplest way to sum up his influence is just the freedom in the way he works — there are no meticulous brushstrokes — it’s more like palette knife and energy,” he says. “And that’s been huge for me. Trusting my intuition and just going for it.”

This year, Meyer will have a show from September 8 through mid-October at the Dana Gallery in Missoula, Montana. He is also represented by the Terzian Galleries in Park City, Utah; Horizon Fine Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and the Kneeland Gallery in Ketchum, Idaho. 

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