So there you are in your scuba gear during an underwater arctic dive and suddenly a polar bear joins you from his ice shelf above. That's the image captured by Kasilof artist Pat Lytle in an original multi-layered acrylic piece she calls "Ice Bear." "The depth of ice and how it reflects color has always fascinated me, not only can you see the surface face of ice but you can see through the many layers and I had always wanted to create something that had that the same visual depth, so I came up with the idea of painting on multiple layers of clear acrylic panels," Lytle told the Dispatch.
The majority of Lytle's paintings have been highly textured abstracts, "The textured surface allows me to have many depths to an otherwise flat painting, but I wanted to capture more than the depth of ice so I wondered what it would be like to dive beneath ice and come face to face with a polar bear that is diving from the other side, so that was the image that I went to work to achieve when I was asked to create a piece for the Kenai Cultural & Visitor Center art show Alaska Light: Mystery Revealed. I used 5 panels of non-yellowing acrylic with transparent acrylic paint. Using the reverse painting technique in an impressionistic style, each panel was painted on the back side to show through the front. I then scored, sanded, burned, and scratched the unpainted side to show the striations in the ice. One of the hardest parts was putting it together. Fortunately, I work at Frames & Things and have access to supplies and equipment. It took me and my boss, Brian Erwin most of the day to put it together using acrylic spacers to hold the panels apart and safely attaching 2 metal frames into one to hold the depth and weight, which came to 35 lbs. The end result was well worth it. I have continued on with this concept and used it in a different way with Red Hot Salmon. I used both transparent and opaque paint for this one. Unlike Ice Bear, I wanted a solid background as the red salmon swam upstream. From a distance, the reds look like chili peppers and the viewer has to step closer to see that they are indeed salmon. I have several other pieces using the layered effect in my studio in various stages of completion."
Ice Bear can be seen in the foyer of the Blazy Mall in Soldotna and Red Hot Salmon at the Frames & Things Gallery inside the Mall. To visit Pat Lytle's studio "Off the Canvas" in Kasilof, call 262-6599.
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