Robert Yonke masterfully models great gobs of negative space in his paintings–and so he achieves dramatic settings for his delicate riverboat shapes.
His art tells of the frailty of the small human structures in a huge maelstrom of water, sky, and steam. Creating negative space means defining an object by emphasizing the surrounding areas, often by strong contrast. In his case Yonke typically dwarfs the riverboat with the great size, simplicity, and strength of his “background”.
Moving between his two home studios, one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the other in Garrett County, Maryland, this artist (also bluegrass musician) delivers these popular watercolor paintings. His specialty seems to be aggressively abstracting his subject for the pure delight of the human eye.
To me the boat itself often seems lost in his David vs. Goliath contest. But I won’t argue with his achievement of a freshness amongst the heavy-handed descriptiveness of much of maritime realism.
Let us honor Yonke, then, as perhaps the supreme maritime artist of the Fourth Coast of the USA! (The “Fourth Coast” means the greater Mississippi river system that cleaves the middle of the continent. After the Atlantic and Pacific, I would count the Great Lakes as a “third coast”.)
Watercolorists have noted–and longed to have–his powerful use of watercolor’s strengths for their very own. Not surprising then that he offers frequent watercolor instruction in the northeast and southeast regions of the USA. See his LINKS below for current events.
Much admired and honored, Yonke’s work is seen in various galleries in the Alleghany mountain region. He belongs to the Garrett County Arts Council, the Participating Artists of the Turkeyfoot Highlands, and the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society.
POLL. Let me know YOUR favorite Yonke painting of all those shown here: just click on it once. I will announce the results in about a week. CLH