Irregular, abstracted shapes in shades of yellow, cream, red, orange, gold, black, and green mixing together and arranged irregularly and asymmetrically


Painting Deconstructed: Selections from the Northwest Collection

On Extended View

Painting is one of the most popular and familiar art forms. Though this artistic genre first appeared over 40,000 years ago, artists continue to find new ways to combine its basic elements into uniquely personal expressions. Looking more intently at the different parts of a painting can reveal how artists shape our experiences of their work through aesthetic choices.

The exhibition is divided into four sections that focus on key aspects of painting: medium and support, composition, color, and technique. The examples in each section offer both well-known and unusual variations. Together they provide one approach among many to interpreting works of art.

The Northwest is home to a diverse and multi-talented group of painters, a number of whom are spotlighted here. All of the artworks on view are by Black and Indigenous artists, artists of color, and women artists. They were selected from Tacoma Art Museum’s collection of more than 700 Northwest paintings.

Artworks can affect us in many ways from their overall impact to the lure of a particular detail. Studying the technical features of a painting both underlines the artistry that goes into the finished work and highlights the endless inventive power of creative imagination.


Painting Deconstructed: Selections from the Northwest Collection was organized by Tacoma Art Museum and generously supported in part by Tacoma Creates.

Exhibition texts by Margaret Bullock, Chief Curator, Curator of Collections and Special Exhibitions unless otherwise noted.

Copyright for the artwork and the photography of the artwork lies with the artist, their assigns, or the museum. Images are available to view here for educational purposes only and are not for commercial use.

Image credits: (clockwise from top) Frank Okada. “Milltown,” 1958. Oil on canvas mounted to board, 46 7/8 x 40 in. (119.1 x 101.6 cm). Tacoma Art Museum. Gift of Barbara and John Erling; Donnabelle Casis. Untitled, 1999. Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in. (61 x 61 cm). Tacoma Art Museum. Gift of Ben and Aileen Krohn.

Technique 2