Intent on Flow: Gravity, Fields, and Chaos

Brad Whitney


Whitney_Pachamama_DetailOur modern times give us the ability to peer into the structure of materials; looking at how atoms make up lattices, how lattices make up molecules and how molecules make up materials. This world lives below our conscious existence and yet fundamentally makes up nearly everything around us.  The duality of atomic scale versus human scale makes for two completely different, yet unified, worlds in our collective conscience – one we live with each day, and one we hardly witness at all.


This body of work of over 40 paintings began with the notions of lattice structures that my partner, a professor of electrical engineering, discusses in his class. Using only straight lines and principles of color theory, these first paintings explore the aspects of surface, depth, structure, and illusion.  The paintings then evolved from the atomic grids to the bending and blending representative of electromagnetic fields that tie it all together.  This new process was achieved by mixing paints with differing viscosities in specific ways, allowing the very subtle material and chemical imbalances to create examples of what is happening at the seemingly-chaotic atomic level.


The process itself inspires me: the ongoing tug-of-war between my intent as a painter and the forces nature imparts on the liquid paint. Each canvas begins with an intent, yet it eventually becomes covered over in many layers of process to finally achieve a desired balance. From a craft perspective, my paintings may best be described as a mutual exchange between me as a painter and the natural forces acting on the paint used to create these representative works. It is my hope that the viewer finds in my work glimpses into the natural forces that shape us and, while doing so, see those natural forces as something beautiful.



BradWhitneyScientific concepts have always inspired me to create.  Drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography are the tools I use to better understand the world around me. I bring these lessons to my students as inspiration to pay closer attention to the world around them, to discover something deeper, and to be more aware of how nature works.  This in turn gives them strong foundations on which to build their vision. I have taught design studio and interior design related courses in the interior design program at Virginia Tech since 1998.