The Secret Life of Ravens
Craig Kosak is hard at work reinventing what and how he paints.
He launched his career making paintings inspired by trips to the national parks. These representational works told the stories of the animals of the West, and the mythology that surrounds them: the majesty of the horse, the trickster nature of ravens, and the power of buffalo. Along the way ravens became his personal totem.
After building his studio and relocating to Whidbey Island in 2012, Craig’s focus started to turn inwards. That introspection fueled a dramatic shift in his art, from paintings that tell a story to paintings that share a feeling. A turn from representational art to abstraction.
Such a fundamental turn required learning to paint a new way, to build his tools from scratch, to try new things.
Hard at work for nearly half a year, Craig’s first solo show of this new body of paintings: The Secret Life of Ravens debuts at Brackenwood this June.
Born in 1957 and raised near Seattle, Craig's dedication to making art has been life long. Early recognition and support for his work led to studies at the Art Center College of Design and a thirty year career as a graphic designer. In 1995 he became the first web designer at Microsoft and helped build the foundation of the Internet we use today. In 2004 he quit his day job to pursue the dream of painting seriously. During his transition to full-time painting Craig served for three years on the board of directors at Seattle's Gage Academy of Art, and president for the final year. He helped rebrand the school and move the registration process online. And he took a few classes too. The transition to independent work happened quickly; Craig soon rented a hole-in-the-wall studio in a bad part of town and got to work. Inspired by road trips to the National Parks of the western US Craig's work began to get noticed. By 2008 he was represented by numerous galleries and his paintings were published in national art magazines, including the cover of Southwest Art. Three years later Craig began a new adventure by purchasing five acres of rural forest on Whidbey Island where he built a modest home and standalone studio. He started working there full time in 2012 and the focus of his work began to turn inward. Inspired by the sea, the forest, the wildlife and the people he holds close Craig's love of calligraphic mark-making led to a new body of mostly abstract paintings made using giant horsehair brushes. The new paintings made their debut in 2016.
The first chapter of my career found me living in the city and travelling the American west seeking answers in the National Parks. While I had not intended to make "western" paintings the influence of the landscape and wildlife was undeniable. Now, my travels around the west are done. My life, and my work are about the land and the creatures with whom I live. And the goal for my work has changed. Rather than make paintings that tell a story I'm much more interested in making paintings that share a feeling. My work explores the inner world where things are felt more than seen. I am making representational paintings about emotional experiences.