Monday, February 11, 2013

Jeff Kraus - Gestures of the Human Hand

point your pistols
paint on panel - 48" x 45"

Sometimes you see a work of art and there is an immediate connection.  That was my experience with the painting of Jeff Kraus.  Heavy texture, limited pallet of colors, marks that appear both readable and mysterious.  All of these elements together drew me into the work and created a desire to know more about this artist.

Artist Statement

I work in the evolution of process, constantly moving and changing; always being open to new possibilities.  Instead of thinking about the work I react to it.  Raw anxious energy turns thought into abstract marks.  Wide ranges of materials facilitate instantaneous gestures of the human hand.  Each layer represents a moment of effort, the record of a moment of perfect decision.  The images metaphorically mirror mental states of being such as uncertainty, confusion, anxiousness, fear, vulnerability and inner-conflict.  The layers represent a physical moment and effort of time, each day and each moment.  Life is loaded with layers; the more you live the more layers you gain.

Artist Profile

Terry:  First, I want to say that I strongly connect with your artist statement.  I too believe that art is a record of our studio experience.  I know that most artists have a vocabulary of marks, shapes, colors etc. and your vocabulary is very evident in your work.

My question is, "How do you keep your work fresh and open to what you described in your statement as "instantaneous gestures of the human hand?"

Jeff:  Everyday that I work in the studio, I am presented with new challenges.  I work a lot of different pieces at once to keep the creative energy flowing and fresh.  When I start to feel like I have repeated a texture or form too many times, I will figure out a way to break down the original form again into a new abstraction.

happy hour
mixed media on panel - 18" x 24"

Terry:  Please tell us about the origins of some of your marks.

Jeff:  I have been working from an index of source imagery for the last couple of years.  I am constantly on the lookout for interesting architecture and geometry in the city and in geometrical patterns.  I am really interested in the relationship between man-made and organic forms.

Terry:  You speak very clearly about the layers of your work and how they represent the events of your life, mental states, and time itself.  You also use titles, which give some clues as to the "content" of the work.  How important is it to you that the viewer understands the exact content?

Jeff:  I don't feel as though it is necessary for me to explain what each piece represents.  My work is open enough that people can have their own experiences separate from mine.  Titles for me are quite arbitrary; they only serve a purpose as a way of cataloging my work so that everything doesn't end up untitled -01, untitled-02 , etc.

Waco Taco
mixed media on canvas - 48" x 72"

Terry:  How does living in Grand Rapids, Michigan impact your life and your art as compared to living in New York City or Los Angeles?

Jeff:  There is a great community of artists and a tremendous amount of support for the arts in Grand Rapids, MI.  Because Grand Rapids is not as big as New York or LA you can really feel the warmth of the community.  Artists, gallery owners, and curators are all working together to better the art scene.  Michigan is where I feel at home, I have spent my whole life living in this state and I don't plan to leave anytime soon.

Terry:  What is the size of the largest canvas you've ever painted and the smallest?  What is your preferred scale?  How does the scale of the canvas affect you as you work?

Jeff:  The largest canvas I have ever worked on was 64" x 88".  I have also done a panel piece that was 60" x 96".  The smallest I have ever worked is 8" x 10".  I used to only work big, but now I have found working small can be just as fun.  The bigger works allow for bigger more gestural marks.  When the canvas is as big as my body I can fully extend my arms in all directions to make marks.  With the smaller works the marks tend to be more controlled and have a tighter feel.

for mom and dad
canvas - 64" x 88"

Terry:  Do you paint everyday?

Jeff:  In an ideal world, yes, I would paint everyday, but I am currently averaging around 3-5 days a week.

Terry:  What has proven to be the best outlet for sales of your work?

Jeff:  My friends and fellow artists have been the best outlet for sales at this moment in my career.  I have also been working with Lafontsee Galleries for about a year now and I have started to sell my work online.

mejor amigo
mixed media on canvas - 54" x 66"

Terry:  Fantasy question:  Your work has a very mysterious misty atmosphere.  What would you be most surprised to find in your painting if the atmosphere cleared?

Jeff:  Underneath the mysterious atmosphere of my work lies an abundance of marks that were put down in the initial phase of my work.  Sometimes those marks work their way back to the top, but most often they are never to be seen.  I think that those first marks are the truest representation of what I am expressing at that moment.  As they work their way back to the surface, they become more polished and idealized.  It would be a great learning experience to re-introduce myself to these marks.

You can see some small works which are for sale HERE.

Jeff in his studio.


Thank you Jeff for sharing your work and insights.

And thank YOU Readers for spending time at
studio 24-7.
I love hearing from and Commenting will always be FREE!!!


  1. Very interesting artist. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Sharon. Mark making is a rich process and I feel Jeff uses the marks to great effect.

  2. Replies
    1. Interesting observation. I love the layers of scratching and the way things float around.

  3. Thank you for introducing Jeff. I'm drawn to his style. It's great that he sells smaller work through

    Side note: not sure why my image isn't showing up with my comment??

    1. Thank you Mia. Great to hear you positive response to the work.

      I don't why your picture isn't showing as it usually does. I checked your profile and the image was there. Likely some gremlin.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. forhead duly smitten as I noticed for the first time today how much these marks look like (I believe the artspeak is "reference") stitching.
    Very intriguing.

  6. Thanks for introducing me to an artist who actually lives nearby. Very interesting work.

    By coincidence, he was just mentioned this week in a newspaper article about a fun local art event, Live Coverage, where artists create work on the spot and the work is auctioned off. He did very well:

    1. Thank you Elizabeth for this info. I checked out the article and he did do well! It sounds like your area really supports artists.