Painter Strives to Entertain Viewer, and Himself
If one had to select a phrase that would comprehensively describe the painting of Paul Gallo, “economy of brush stroke” would be a suitable one. The 65-year-old Middletown man produces seemingly complex imagery with thoughtful and restrained applications of paint.
Most of his work is representational and modest in dimension. The brush strokes evident in it suggest an immediacy that gives each effort an impressionistic mien.
“I like to see brush stroke,” says Gallo. “It demonstrates, to a certain extent, how the painting was constructed…the process involved. But, process shouldn’t overwhelm.”
Indeed, when asked about his goals or objectives as a painter, Gallo responds, “To entertain the viewer, and me. The painting can be a beautiful landscape, or it can be an industrial scene. Whatever the subject, I want it to take the viewer out of the moment.”
Gallo regards himself as a sketch artist.
“I don’t see my work as being especially profound. Trying to accomplish that puts me under too much pressure,” he chortles. “If others can see something profound in any of my pieces, so be it.”
The artist’s common choice of painting surface is Masonite.
“I apply shellac to seal it,” he explains, “then brush on a wash of white acrylic or gesso. I occasionally work on canvas, but I prefer the smooth surface of Masonite.”
His paint box is dominated by Winsor Newton oils, some Gamblin products and a few other brands. Gallo’s palette is basic. He uses white and three colors. They are ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow medium and alizarin crimson. His brushes are nylon and bristle flats of various sizes.
“I experimented with knives but couldn’t get the results that I desired,” he says.
If the subject is “mechanical” or structural in nature, Gallo will do a preliminary drawing on the Masonite. Otherwise, he applies paint to begin the piece.
“I mix pools of color that are represented in the image,” he says, “then vary them for particular needs. Following convention, I generally work thin to thick, back to front and general to specific.”
Gallo’s finished oil sketches present a variety of paint applications. Some sections are generously covered, while others are washed.
Gallo’s education and training has been rather eclectic. After graduating from high school in Philipsburg, Pa., he spent a year at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He came to the Harrisburg area in 1977 and was an advertising artist for Hood, Light and Geise. He earned a business degree from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) and then, in his 40s, completed a master’s in illustration from Syracuse University.
“I still do freelance work for some local agencies,” he says. “And, I’ve taught graphic illustration at the Art Institute of York, which unfortunately is closing soon. This fall, I’ll be teaching a Photoshop class at HACC.”
“My realistic painting style hasn’t changed much,” he confesses. “I first started with acrylics because I was ‘afraid’ of oils. They seemed to have too many technical aspects to learn. However, other artists, whose works were superior to mine, encouraged me to use oils. In time, I did. Now I regard oils as the ‘king’ of mediums.”
Gallo will participate in the Seven Lively Artists exhibition beginning next month at the Pennsylvania State Museum. The opening reception is free and slated for Friday, October 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. That date is also a Third in the ‘Burg night. The show closes February 12, 2017. In place through September 24 at Harrisburg’s Gallery@Second is an exhibit of Gallo’s recent paintings. Hours are Thursday through Friday 4:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visit email@example.com for more information.