Laurin McCracken is a realist watercolorist whose work is largely influenced by the Dutch and Flemish Still Life painters of the 16th and 17th Centuries. In McCracken’s view, these painters were masters at recording the world around them and how it changed over a period of 100-150 years. They recorded the world as they saw it – objects on a table, light seen through a window from the left. They were fantastic technicians who advanced the craft of painting because they saw things in great detail and developed a painting style that documented what they saw with a high level of accuracy.
McCracken’s goal is to record the world around him with the same high level of detail. This is not a painting style that is typically associated with his medium of watercolor. Look closely at a McCracken painting and you will not only see the objects in the painting, but you will also see reflections of other objects within the very objects he paints.
“At first glance, silver appears to be a series of grays with some dark shadows and some very bright highlights,” McCracken comments. “But for me, one of the joys of painting silver is finding all of the reflections and colors the silver picks up from the objects around it. If there is a flower in the still-life set-up, for example, the silver reflects back the color of that flower. Reflections are not always as straightforward as the ones on the fat belly of a teapot. The flower might reflect off the underside of a curved handle and onto the side of the teapot away from the flower. It’s those kinds of details that can only be discovered by careful observation.”
Born in Meridian, Mississippi, McCracken attended Auburn University and holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Architecture from Rice University and a Masters Degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University. Today, the 61 year old divides his time between being a marketing and strategies officer for an architect firm and creating his art.
Though McCracken has worked away from the architectural drawing board for 25 years, he sees this connection between architectural design and his intricate still-life paintings:
“From a training standpoint, I know how to do detail things. And what I do is so strategic from the planning standpoint, you know, what you’re going to paint first, second and last. With a water-based medium there are surprises. Architecturally, I like the process.”
McCracken’s award-winning paintings have been exhibited in juried shows from coast to coast, including the Philadelphia Watercolor Society, Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society, Pittsburgh Watercolor Society and the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors, California Watercolor Society, Watercolor West, Southern Watercolor Society and the American Watercolor Society. His work was recently included in two important shows in China; Shanghai Zhoujiajiao International Watercolor Biennial Exhibition and the Beijing International Art Biennale.
Laurin is a signature member of more than a dozen watercolor societies including the American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society, Transparent Watercolor Society of America, Southern Watercolor Society, Watercolor West, Watercolor Society of Alabama, Texas Watercolor Society, Philadelphia Watercolor Society, Mississippi Watercolor Society, Watercolor Art Society – Houston, and the Louisiana Watercolor Society. Additionally, McCracken’s work has been published in many national and international magazines and books including: Watercolor, Watercolor Artist, Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, American Artist, many of which he has also been a contributing writer to.
Laurin McCracken’s paintings may be found in corporate and private collections across the country, including McGraw-Hill’s Corporate Collection and the Urban Land Institute. His photographs may be found in the Graphics Arts Collection at Princeton University. McCracken is represented by art4business, Philadelphia and London; the Southside Gallery, Oxford, MS; Milan Gallery, Fort Worth, TX and Jack Meier Gallery, Houston, TX.
The Basic Aspects of Being a Painter, Laurin thoughts
I believe there are three basic aspects of being a good painter:
- You must be able to see things in fresh way. You must see things in a way that reveals new ways of seeing things to others. The American painter Walter Anderson from Mississippi said, “Everything I see is new and strange”. From that he created art that attracts our attention, warrants our study and astounds us. We cannot all see the world as uniquely as Walter Anderson, but we need to see things in such a way that bring a fresh point of view to our art.
- Drawing is the fundamental of all art. It is the technique we all use to transfer our way of seeing into any medium. The more one draws the easier it gets. The more one draws the more one understands about the things one sees. It is very difficult to be a good painter if you cannot draw well.
- You must become a master of your craft. You must be able to be facile with the tools of your medium if you are to be successful at transferring how you see things to others. Without mastery of the craft of watercolor painting, your audience will not be able to see past your poor painting abilities to be able to read the message you are trying to communicate to them about what you saw and drew.
You will find more information and works going to Laurin McCracken Website