Colby Sanford Solo Exhibition: Remembering Home
Colby Sanford’s contemporary figurative paintings reveal shared intimacies between family, lovers, friends and introspective individuals. Casual snapshots from the artist’s everyday life translate onto his panels as nostalgic and bittersweet moments in subtle colors and loose brushstrokes.
“The biggest influence for my work is day to day life,” says Sanford. “It’s the personal moments – nothing grandiose but just the quiet ones that maybe we don’t even notice. I believe there is a lot of beauty and sacredness in those moments.”
Colby Sanford’s current body of work for his solo show, Remembering Home reflects a summer spent with his wife and daughter at his grandparent’s home in rural Maine. Sanford spent his summers here with his family as a boy; his new paintings represent his first return as father and husband reflecting on and comparing his childhood adventures and his current experiences. “In coming to Maine, I knew I had built it up in my mind to be this really ideal place,” says Sanford. “But I also knew that the romance and the reality of it wouldn’t necessarily line up – and I wanted in some way to address that in the work.” In order to reveal this concept through his paintings, Sanford prepared series of panels for his trip by cutting them into rectangular shapes according to the golden section. Over the course of the summer, Sanford painted his new experiences within this perfected framework. “I started out with a shape that was really ideal, then in coming and living here I fit my reality into that romantic notion.”
Altering the shape of his compositions isn’t a new process for Sanford, who often cuts his panels into interesting outlines from triangles to uneven hexagons. “The shaping of the canvas is almost like part of the painting process,” he explains. “It’s a way to address a space or emphasize a figure in space.”
The forethought given to the concept behind Sanford’s new work extends to his actual painting process. Skewed perspectives, exaggerated forms and blocky brushwork create what appear to be haphazardly arranged compositions, but which are actually meticulously and intentionally applied. While Sanford’s figures engage in routine activities from everyday life, they technically exist in an ideal reality. The artist explains: “I paint the figure in first and then build the environment around them. For this I use a set of proportional dividers that are set to the golden section, so instead of being intuitive it’s all very much based on ideals.” This process contributes to the intangible intrigue we feel when viewing Sanford’s work. Not only do we connect with his paintings on an emotional level but we also connect to his aesthetic, as it is pleasing and interesting for our eye and mind.
Colby Sanford’s paintings inspire us to reexamine our own lives and cherish the personal moments that too often pass by unnoticed. As our fast paced society encourages us to constantly seek adventure, accomplish tasks and think big, Sanford’s artwork reminds us of the simpler experiences that truly provide us with the ideal life.
- Kelly Skeen