May 24th 2006

REVIEW ‌ WILLIAM MCCULLOUGH 

A LIFE LESS ORDINARY

BY NICK SMITH

Back home in South Carolina, a dearth of willing models led the artist to concentrate on rural landscapes. Examples like "Stephen's Branch Farm" indicate a tendency to romanticize his surroundings, with softer images and lighter, pastelly hues. As McCullough progressed, he grew more confident with his palette and strengthened his brushwork (the thick-layered oils of 2004's "Lent," with its gnarly, blasted tree and oil drum, are a good example).
Some subjects haven't changed at all in the past quarter century. 1975's "No Parking" shows a figure on a fractured sidewalk, the shadow of a large building suggesting a looming urban environment beyond the canvas. Fifteen years later in "Westendorff's Store," McCullough's technique has become smoother and more consistent, and he's confident enough to play with the colors of his subject. By placing an accentuated light brown and white building on a blue background, he creates a world that's less realistic than the '70s version. The lower angle of "Looking Up Cannon" from 2005 accentuates the sidewalk, walls, and gates, but the tone is optimistic; the grass is greener on this side of the millennium.
By showing the highs (McCullough's contemporary Charleston landscapes) and the lows (a few early pieces, some stiff-looking figurative work and patchy portraits like "The Blacksmith") of his life in art, Southern Painter instructs, entertains, and shows what an artist can achieve if he strives to depict the world around him in his own exceptional fashion.