Artist Exhibiting Oil on Copper Paintings at the Celebration of Fine Art Is Part of a Rare But Centuries-Old Tradition

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When artist Scott Hale began painting in oil on copper seven years ago, it was an experimental departure on a demanding surface that he conducted with small paintings. This year at the Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale, he's creating these exquisite works on a much larger scale.

I've always been drawn to the rich, warm tones of Scott's western landscapes. His work on copper is impressionistic with a modern slant. Liveable and timeless.

Imagine being in an art gallery enjoying a painting. This particular landscape looks wonderfully executed, but there is an aspect to it, almost 'inside' the painting that feels quite unusual. When the realization comes that it's an oil painting on copper, one might think "I didn't know that could be done."

This was artist Scott Hale's ( very own experience when he first discovered paintings on copper in a Seattle-area gallery in the mid 90's. At that time, he was an amateur artist, in his first job just out of college in an unrelated career. He began painting full time in 2003, but it wasn't until 2006 that he started experimenting with oil on copper. "It was always in the back of my mind, this one painter whose work on copper fascinated me." says Scott, "I had wanted to try it but thought I'd become more proficient with oil in general before trying to integrate this difficult surface."

Since then, the Bozeman, Montana-based artist has been building up his familiarity with the technique and has been concentrating on executing it on a larger scale during the past year. At the Celebration of Fine Art going on in Scottsdale, he is exhibiting many paintings on copper that are 3 feet square or larger. Scott says some of its challenges are its inherent smoothness, building up intial layers, and balancing translucency of the pigment with the copper's visual strength. Many art enthusiasts are not aware that there is a tradition of oil painting on copper that goes back as far as the late 16th century. The Phoenix Art Museum held an exhibition in the late 90's comprised entirely of oil paintings on copper from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

"A question I often hear is 'Why copper?" says Scott. "The answer really revolves around what the copper adds to my work that just can't be accomplished any other way. I see the copper as a luminous soul inside my work that emanates through the translucent glazes of oil placed over it." His latest work - 'Endless', is a 3' x 4' painting depicting the Grand Canyon. Looking closely at this late afternoon canyon composition, there is a substantial amount of copper dappled in the sky that has not been covered with paint. A layer of rock near the top of the canyon has paint skillfully glazed so thinly that the copper gives the rock an extraordinary jewel-toned vitality. And after a while, one begins to see that even in the shadowed areas, there is copper winding between the brush strokes. The overall result is a subtle but powerful unifying warmth to the painting that is truly striking.

When his paintings are dry, he finishes them off with a varnish to seal the copper and paint from the elements. He then frames them in a manner all his own - with patinaed copper trim fastened with copper nails surrounded by a simple, contemporary black frame. Collector MJ Hall of Scottsdale says, "I've always been drawn to the rich, warm tones of Scott's western landscapes. His work on copper is impressionistic with a modern slant. Liveable and timeless."

Scott is currently showing his work at the Celebration of Fine Art ( running daily from 10 - 6 pm now through March 24th. Visit the show and and find him working on his next oil on copper. His work may also be seen on his website:

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