March 2020 I met Keith Pfeiffer in one of the last classes I taught in person, before the quarantine. The class was on color and light. We practiced producing a sensation of light by replacing white with color (above), how to get vibration from complementary hues, vibrant vs neutral effects, and how to dim or compress the values of a palette way down to make a small bright area sparkle, or dwell in moody nocturne (below). These are a selection of Keith’s instagram posts, showing his artistic progression, from March 2020 to March 2021. I think my “Illusion of Light” class might have had some influence on this time period of paintings in which Keith was playing with light and shadow. Nocturnedetaildetail Happy Birthdaydetail With his virtuosity with image creation, and his easy ability to share positive solutions in class critiques, Keith earned an instructor position at the League. Keith was hired in February and we went online in March. Trained as an illustrator, he produces quick and concise paint and digital examples on the fly, and he has been my inspiration for adaptive skills in zoom formats for online teaching. detail After his studies in light, Keith took a class on showing time and change with Zoey Frank. You can see his forms break, as he practices how to paint layers of abstracted and fractured pieces, recording observations of time, change, and movement. Started by Cezanne as a precursor to cubism, this practice pulls the artist’s attention off of describing forms, and applies it instead to points of view, relationships, pathways, and interactions of colors, which opens up the solid singularity of the picture and invites a process of abstraction. “Please excuse my delirious artist talk:This painting was an exercise in control. Not in technique but in power. So often when I paint it feels like unbalanced relationship between me and the painting. Some days the painting has full control and I’m too scared to make a mark in fear of messing it up. Some days I have too much control and I keep painting without stopping to listen to what the painting needs. This painting felt like a true collaboration between me, the realist, and the painting, the abstract. Every time I wanted to render something fully, I would stop to ask the painting what it thought (not literally don’t worry). Compromises were made on both ends. ‘I’ll give you this floating mark erasing the head if I get to render this hand. Deal?'”- KP detail Breaking the forms…. You can see how this way of painting leads to a study of color and and space, as what were previously the subjects are now secondary. They become less solid than the paint itself. detail “Every mark (even the eraser) has to describe 2 things and only these two things at the same time: planar forms and value. No contours, only sculpting planes. The plane of the table sculpts the outer most shape of the fruit and the wall shapes the table and the stem. If I need to erase an area to make it lighter, I have to erase in the direction of the form I’m erasing on.Aka just cross hatching in 3d” – KP “Same idea as the last, but every mark has to describe planar forms and color (value, hue, saturation). Im also trying to let the forms stay in a constant state of becoming. Never finished, but still complete. Do I need to describe the entire form or will the viewer fill in the rest? Every time it starts to feel too finished, I break it apart by painting through the object. We don’t expect our friends to only be one thing, never allowed to change, so we shouldn’t expect our subjects or our paintings to be constant either.” – KP work in process After learning to break the forms, Keith started watching the videos for Jonathan Harkham’s Still Life class, and continued the idea of breaking the form, as he found his way across the surface of a changing scene. Here is a process sequence, in reverse order: shoulda kept the cat “I painted this still life over the past several days, letting the objects come in and out and re arrange. Instead of seeing an issue every time the light changed or the objects moved, I saw an opportunity to paint new shapes and colors. Instead of painting one moment of reality (which we don’t even experience reality as one single moment anyways), I used several moments of reality as references for just creating an interesting painting. I was free to change colors and values or to not fully paint an object because observation wasn’t the goal, it was a tool.” detail I love looking at this progression of Keith’s paintings from March 2020 to March 2021, seeing see how each class he takes contributes to his work. In this incubating chamber of quarantine, with so many educational opportunities at easy reach, I feel as if I’m watching decades of accumulated art knowledge fly by in months. It’s exciting to see, and I wonder what comes next! Thanks to Keith Pfeiffer, for showing me the fabulous impacts a good art class can have.