Scott Blaser, a Utah native now living in London, will bring his paintings and prints back to his home state for an exhibition at Patrick Moore Gallery, November 10 -30.
Whether painting or making original intaglio prints, Blaser’s work has been influenced by the horizontal landscape. It’s the way the big western sky meets the ground at the horizon. And it’s in the way repetitive mark making and shapes line up across a sheet of printmaking paper, even when they are not horizontal but squiggles.
But it’s even more basic than that. The linear-sequential way of making sense of the world is an archetype and a meditative experience.
The linear sequence of Blaser’s life contains some squiggles as well. He majored in art at the University of Utah, but, he says, “didn’t know anyone at the time who made a living as an artist”. So he went to law school instead and became an attorney and certified public accountant.
Though he enjoyed practicing law, the artistic impulse eventually caught up with him and he returned to the U to study with Paul Davis and David Dornan. He also began to phase out of his law practice. His horizon line then took him eastward, first to New York City, where he studied and made art for a couple of years.
At that time, he was known for his colorful landscape painting. But then someone asked him a pivotal question: “What are you trying to say?” – a question that often leaves artists speechless and sends them on an internal quest for the answer. When a fellow artist encouraged him to consider attending the City and Guilds Art School of London, he got his affairs in order and followed the horizon to England.
The move, and art school experience, produced profound changes in his work. There, Blaser studied printmaking, hoping that painting or scratching loose abstract patterns on a plate would produce a loosening in his landscape painting. He began to love printmaking, and to make the connection between the representational images in his painting and the abstract mark making in his prints.
He also enjoyed the ability to layer images in printmaking and began to carry that over into his work with acrylics in painting. And he began to see and use color in a different way. After being a “colorist” in his painting practice, he began to value the lack of color in his prints and in his paintings decided to use color as more of a “team player” rather than a dominating force.
“The printmaking has informed my painting,” says Blaser, “and the painting has informed the printmaking.” Going back and forth between the two mediums is a bit like “using a tuning fork,” he says. “It’s vibratory in nature.”
In the show at Patrick Moore Gallery, Blaser will exhibit about six paintings and a number of individual prints, as well as prints that when hung together form a suite covering eight feet of wall space.
Though Blaser felt a need to leave the West and live in big cities, he says he longs for the sparseness of the desert. He still has family in Utah and Idaho and plans to spend much of every summer here, as he did last summer.
And what does he look forward to when he comes back for the opening of his exhibition in November? Going to the desert, of course. The red rock horizon of Torrey is calling him.
Sue Martin holds an M.A. in Theatre and has worked in public relations. As an artist, she works in watercolor, oil, and acrylic to capture Utah landscapes or the beauty of everyday objects in still life.