When most people visualize the Statue of Liberty, its blue-green appearance is usually the first characteristic that comes to mind. The color comes from the natural patina process that occurs over time with changes in temperature and exposure to moisture on the statue’s copper surface. Although patina can naturally occur, the deliberate act of applying it remains an ancient technique, and one of the most secretive art forms today. Ancient Egyptians would patina their sculptures to create shades of red, blue, green and gold and today, Utah artist Nathan Bennett introduces this process on 2-dimensional pieces of bronze, resulting in complex patina paintings.
Nathan Bennett describes the method as “using different metals and applying them through the use of fire and various chemicals to create colors on bronze.” The technique is just as complicated and as messy as it sounds, and it requires a great deal of time and patience to master. Bennett’s interest in art stemmed from a young age, receiving 2 university scholarships right out of high school to pursue his dreams. However, during a period of pain and confusion at the age of 18, Bennett was told, “take time to find yourself” and it was then that he found patina and his gift in mastering the art.
While discussing the process with the artist, one could hardly believe that Bennett doesn’t have a solid background in science and alchemy, considering the immense technical terminology and understanding that patina requires, but trial and error led him to create the most vibrant colors and beautiful images.
Even for those who are not aware of the complex patina process, Nathan Bennett’s art proves to be nothing short of compelling. Take his piece “Four Seasons,” for example; all four sides of this bronze sculpture are painted with the image of each season, but they are not the seasons of the earth. Rather, they represent the seasons of our lives. Bennett explains, “we all have seasons, some quick burning, some mark significant life changes, but they all shape who we are in the end.”
One element that distinguishes Nathan Bennett’s work from all others is his use of trees. “Trees are a symbol of us,” he states. Bennett found that he could convey the human emotion through the use of a tree much more clearly than any other symbol. These trees are usually black or gold, silhouettes that breathe against a dreamlike mist of color. Although the trees tend to be portrayed as shady images, the magic in Bennett’s work comes with the realization of what creates that shadow. Take a close look at Nathan Bennett’s art; you’ll notice that, although the darker images tend to make you feel a certain way, once your eyes catch the light of the colors, the feelings seem to lift. “You can’t see the light without the dark,” Nathan continues, “mostly what I paint is hope.”