I am simply fascinated by the vibrant colors, intricate textures, and abstract geometries of natural materials, like polished marble, agate, jasper, and petrified wood. But when I tried to capture them in paint using brushes on canvas, I failed miserably! Then, a few years ago, I began experimenting with the art of pouring paint instead of brushing it, and suddenly I found I could create an amazing variety of just the kinds of abstract color compositions I was hoping to achieve. I mix different acrylic paints and inks into acrylic pouring medium, which I then pour over Plexiglas and manipulate in all kinds of ways. I call the result "Liquid Color” paintings because they produce marvelously fluid streams and eddies of color. If I add silicone before pouring, the paint miraculously separates to form complex textures of “cells.” Because the substrate is Plexiglas, these paintings don't actually require a frame and can be made in virtually any shape. Once I started cutting the Plexiglas into different shapes – often elegantly curved ones – I began to experiment with composing several of them in front of a background to create 3D "Wall Sculptures." It is great fun, and I feel like I’m only beginning to explore the process.
Steve Palmer began his painting career after retiring and moving to New Mexico. He spent the previous 40+ years as a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at U.C. Berkeley. There he taught courses and published research in the field of vision science, the topic of his pioneering book, Vision Science: Photons to Phenomenology (MIT Press, 1999). His interest in visual aesthetics began with digital photography, which led him to begin studies of people’s aesthetic responses to colors, shapes, textures, and spatial compositions (see https://vimeo.com/80163734 for a talk about color preferences) and how these visual features are related to music through emotion. Some of this work is described in a book he co-edited, Aesthetic Science: Connecting Minds, Brains, and Experience (Oxford University Press, 2012). His “Liquid Color” paintings are closely related to these scientific studies about people’s aesthetic response to visual perception.