The Evolution of A Masterpiece

Most often, when one views a work of art, whether at a gallery, online, or in one’s own home, he or she sees a finished work – The culmination of work that requires weeks, months and sometimes the better part of a year for an artist to complete. The latter is especially true in the world of contemporary Sporting Artist Keith Cardnell, who, in the last decade, has created fewer than 12 Sporting works – Each painting often taking up to a year to complete. Every work requires extensive research, profound architectural design and composition, thorough working and reworking of the layout design to assure visual intrigue, and layers upon layers of paint just to create the underpainting of the work. Then, with painstaking details applied over many stages to the landscape, water, clouds, & light, the magic comes to life. His highly unique style, technique, attention to detail, and use of light and color crescendo to create a mood-provoking response that is as rare as any you will find in Sporting Art today. Perhaps the only aspect more rare is the simple scarcity of his work in the market. He is a Rara Avis in today’s Sporting Art market.

Keith Cardnell embarked on a journey about nine months ago to create a true masterpiece – A commissioned Sporting Art painting measuring a magnificent 54” high by 92” long. To make these numbers simpler, this canvas will measure 4 ½ feet tall by just under 8 feet long! Cardnell has opened his studio, so to speak, to the Sporting Art World to share his process and allow his audience to see the architectural underpinnings of this grand commissioned work. Working in formal Stages and often ‘gridding’ the painting into sectors, Cardnell applies paint to canvas with an eye for brilliant design, mood and narrative, combined with painstaking detail throughout. To view images of this commissioned work from start to finish, accompanied by narration in the artist’s own voice, is a fascinating experience and allows us all to see the evolution of this masterpiece.

Every aspect of Cardnell’s approach to Sporting Art is unique. From the initial architecture to his final signature (he always signs his canvases off the image on the ‘wrap’ part of the canvas, along with a windmill motif, as he feels his signature should not ‘burden’ the visual of his paintings), his process is one of unyielding discipline and zero-tolerance for compromise. His rare ability to balance all of these external and internal influences into a seamless transition to canvas is what makes Cardnell’s Sporting Art so unique.

Cardnell sees the masterpiece only complete when he has achieved a high level of ‘discovery’ for the viewer who will experience a ‘full visual revelation’ only when viewing the work time and time again. Cardnell’s signature ‘discovery elements’ are meticulously executed and positioned within a work in such a way that one may not catch them on the first, second or even third view. It is this technique that allows Cardnell to keep the viewer coming back to absorb a work in different ways and on different levels that assists in creating the overall narrative. It is often not until Cardnell himself points out certain, subtle elements in a work that one becomes aware of their presence and the profound visual impact they have on the overall work.

As a prelude for what is to come over the next several weeks, we recommend reading Cardnell’s words on the various preparations and stages that contribute to the overall production of one of his masterpieces, as well as the materials used, found here. Cardnell’s bio and other works can be found here.