SHELBYVILLE - Ioan Florea has changed the look of his painting.
"The reaction this time was completely different," said the Shelbyville resident when he had a recent showing at Beacon Art Gallery in Decatur.
When viewing his earlier works, "Everybody said, 'I can do that.' " said Florea.
Not this time.
The style he created, combining sculpture and painting on canvas, caused people frequently reach out to touch them. The viewers seeing his newest, large-scale sculptural paintings then asked, "How did you do this?" he said.
"I'm glad that people interact. When people interact with a painting, they go beyond the second dimension, the third dimension to the more spiritual."
Florea has been sculpting on canvas with paint for some time, using paints he creates out of a soybean-based product. He doesn't find it unusual that he makes his own paints - nontoxic and environmentally friendly - because the masters of years ago made their paints also, he explained.
But his current work is different, sometimes up to two inches thick on a canvas which he also stretched and framed himself. And some canvases are more than six feet tall. He doesn't reveal the total materials in the process except to say it's a combination of light-weight materials, resin and pigment.
"It may look abstract but each (painting) has elements of design, principles of design.
"My goal is to create a composition where the entire image has a unity. Even if it's abstract, there are a lot of rules. You have to balance the colors, the shapes.
"If you make one change, you have to change everything. It's kind of like a living organism that eats me alive.
"The painting controls me."
A couple of examples of Florea's work remain on display in Beacon. This was the first time Florea's work had been exhibited there, said Rick McCoy, Beacon owner.
"I'd never seen his work before I went to the studio to pick it up.
"It is really different, unusual," he said, adding he enjoyed the combination work at Florea creates. "I like the idea that he spent a long time arriving at a product."
Before Ioan Florea begins one of his sculptural paintings, he reads, studies, ponders. That reading and studying came be anything and everything he comes across from fossils to contemporary architecture to hieroglyphics to geometric shapes. It's the influence of this study, combined with his formal training, that aid him in coming up with his creations.
Arlene Mannlein can be reached at email@example.com or 421-6976.