In The Studio: Process of a Painting with Terrence Campagna

Terrence Campagna uses new and found wood to make art that is both painterly and sculptural.  Gathering wood from a range of places including Wisconsin, Nebraska, New York and more, Campagna (NAP #101) pieces together beautifully weathered pieces with newer and bolder painted pieces that are inspired by the traffic signs on the interstate. 

In a way, his work encapsulates the blurriness our eyes encounter when taking in the juxtaposition of aged buildings and new signs we see while speeding down an interstate.  As with all Process of a Painting pieces, we follow Campagna’s work from start to finish…A process which began by filming video studies for inspiration and one which ended with two additional pieces (Untitled) pictured at the end of the post. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Terrence Campagna | Plumule (Reedsburg, WI/ Omaha, NE/ Marquette, NE/ Utica, NY), 10' x 5.5' x 1', 2013.


Terrence Campagna | Plumule –detail 1.

In Campgana’s own words, Plumule “is made largely from wood I gathered in the places where I have lived the past year. Mostly I used beautifully weathered wood that was collected from decaying outbuildings in rural Wisconsin. The outbuildings had been built decades ago for storing hay, grains, tools, and animals. These structures have a different way of breathing and translating light then the architectural structures we generally live in.”

Campagna: “I lived on the Wisconsin farm for nearly half a year, making video studies of the way light moved inside the buildings and the way they also framed the colors and forms of the sky.

During my process I think I was attempting to get some of that feeling of breath and changing light into a work like Plumule. The color palette of the newer painted wood that I join to the old wood is based on the colors of interstate highways/road signs--florescent orange, bright green, white, yellow, blue, etc.”


Terrence Campagna | Assembling wood.

To begin, all of the wood--both new and old-- was cut into various sized strips on a table saw.


Terrence Campagna | Cutting wood – 1.


Terrence Campagna | Cutting wood – 2.

And then a miter saw was used to make 45 degree angles.


Terrence Campagna | Joining wood.

Then the long and fun process of joinery.


The finished piece: Terrence Campagna | Plumule (Reedsburg, WI/ Omaha, NE/ Marquette, NE/ Utica, NY), 10' x 5.5' x 1', 2013.


Terrence Campagna | Plumule –detail 2.


Terrence Campagna | Plumule –detail 3.

Happy accidents Campagna made during the process of creating Plumule.


Terrence Campagna | Untitled (Reedsburg, WI/ Omaha, NE) 2013, wood collected from rural outbuildings, stick, painted wood, nails, screws, 2013.


Terrence Campagna |Untitled (Reedsburg, WI/ Marquette, NE) 2013, wood collected from rural outbuildings, stick, painted wood, nails, screws, 2013.

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In 2013, Terrence Campagna recently showed his work in a solo show On the Surface of the Midwest: Recent Field Work at the University of Wisconsin at Parkside in Racine, WI. There, he exhibited large paper and wood wall works made from materials collected on walks since 2007. This past fall, he also showed another project, Small Bodies of Surface Water, which was part of Biennial 27 at the South Bend Museum of Art in Southbend, Indiana.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer.

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