Mark Conrardy

May 3 - July 18, 2018

City Art in Columbia, SC is pleased to host the works of Mark Conrardy to be featured in the main gallery May 3rd – July 18, 2018. An opening reception with the artist will be held Thursday May 3, 2018 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm.

Mark was born and grew up in Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, where his grandmother encouraged him to draw horses and praised the results. This encouragement, and that of friends and teachers as early as kindergarten, gave him confidence to continue art as an interest. He later earned a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering at Kansas State University. Although he worked and developed his drafting skills (drawing and hand-lettering) as a draftsman in Southern California, he became uncomfortable with the responsibilities of architectural engineering after the Hyatt Skywalk disaster in Kansas City. The skills he developed as a draftsman helped in Plein air drawing and painting.

Mark moved to South Carolina where he worked as a graphic artist/illustrator with the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - Graphics Section. He developed numerous illustrations, caricatures for the SC Wildlife magazine, and designed the 2003 Loggerhead Turtle Endangered Species license plate. DNR’s Wildlife Shop made a limited edition print of Mark’s Boykin Spaniel (SC state canine). One of Mark’s favorite illustrations is called “Life in a South Carolina Blackwater River.” It shows the many species that inhabit blackwater rivers in South Carolina.

Mark says his work experienced a breakthrough when he started painting tractors at a Columbia Museum of Art, About Face Plein air event. The underpainting was an abstract of a gamecock on a Masonite panel. He turned the panel sideways and began with a charcoal drawing. Mark explains that, as he painted, he left some of the abstract painting visible, so it became part realism part abstraction. He discovered that drawing in charcoal coupled with painting in oil using the glazing (watercolor) technique put him into a mentally peaceful, relaxed, creative zone where he could paint intuitively. It also allowed him to make adjustments to the painting but just moving the charcoal lines and let the paint be loose and drippy. Since he was painting on a board he did not have to let the paint dry as he would with watercolor paper.

Mark enjoys using drafting and perspective skills in his paintings and has developed a system to create work. Painting on birch wood panels cut to size, he coats with gesso, coats the underpainting with cadmium red light oil or acrylic, develops the drawing with charcoal (working with “rule of 3rds” to create an interesting composition), then starts painting.