2021 Emerging Artist: Colin McGuire

Cape Cod Art  /  ART Annual 2021 /

Writer: Larry Lindner

Harvest Moon • 12” x 12” • oil on wood

Not to sound crass, but want a hot tip? Buy a Colin McGuire. Some of his paintings are already selling in the mid four figures, and the 33-year-old’s stock is only going to rise as he moves deeper into his career. 

People are no doubt responding, in part, to the sculptural quality of his works. He paints completely with a palette knife—no brush strokes—and the effect becomes almost 3D. 

McGuire cottons to the difficulty of creating with knives, an Impressionist technique. “It forces me to get uncomfortable,” he says, “kind of like an intentional challenge that I set up for myself. When you paint with a brush you have more control over the stroke, particularly when it comes to linear control. Where edges meet, you get more defined lines.” With a knife, on the other hand, “it all turns into a liquid state, so there’s going to be a battle between what I intend to make happen and what’s going to happen on the canvas. You tend to lose the image for a while and have to earn it back. And though it’s exhausting at times, that sort of encounter pushes me forward as an artist. It’s what brings me somewhere I haven’t gone before.”

A liquidity actually remains in the finished product, and not just because the lion’s share of McGuire’s paintings are seascapes (no surprise for a Cape urchin who did most of his growing up in Truro). There’s movement within the paintings as you study them; they don’t feel static. The waves, the bonfire at the shore — you can just about see them shifting, undulating. Perhaps that’s why he’s already getting a lot of commissions.

Out to Sea • 24” x 30” • oil on panel

Down the road, McGuire sees himself working on much larger canvases — four, five, six feet. “Gerhard Richter was doing things where he poured oil paints and used large squeegees,” he says. “I Imagine the day comes in my studio when I’m not using tubes of paint anymore but paint that comes in buckets, and I’m applying it with a big blade or a large squeegee instead of a palette knife.”

Watch this space. In the meantime, red “sold” dots keep appearing on the smaller works at his gallery in Marblehead, where he moved from the Cape when he was recruited to teach at his alma mater, the Montserrat College of Art. You can also find some of his work at the McGuire Gallery in Provincetown.

See Colin McGuire’s work at McGuire Gallery, 70 Washington St., Marblehead, MA, and colinmcguirefineart.com.