Artist’s Work with Copper Showcases the Metal’s Diverse Colors and Textures

Artist’s Work with Copper Showcases the Metal’s Diverse Colors and Textures
10 Oct 2016

Copper’s unique properties cause the metal to change color and texture over time. The diverse number of finishes and patinas serve both form and function. Copper’s beautiful colors add to the sophistication and uniqueness of architecture and design, while its durable finish protects these buildings from the elements.

Architects aren’t the only ones to take advantage of the spectrum of copper colors and finishes. The metal has served as a museadam-3 for many brilliant artists, including Adam Colangelo, a full-time, mid-career artist living and working in the Niagara wine region. Colangelo’s large-scale compositions speak to his understanding of copper and his interests in presenting the material in new and innovative ways. By employing diverse techniques, Colangelo can create an array of patinas and finishes so rich in detail that each small segment offers its own earthy abstraction. Colangelo has exhibited works in Toronto, Whistler, New York, Chicago, Miami, and Tokyo. His work is well represented and has been purchased for private and corporate collections in the United States and Canada.

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CDA spoke with Colangelo about his experiences working with copper and how he brings out the material’s full palette of colors.

When you were young and started to work with copper, what was it about the metal that made you keep coming back to it?

After experimenting with a variety of mediums, I chose (and stuck with) copper largely due to its natural capacity to oxidize and therefore create color and texture without a single drop of paint. This ability to transform has kept me interested and inspired me to showcase the beauty of this fascinating medium.

What are some of the artistic aspects you like about working with copper? As one who works with metals, what elements about working with copper do you enjoy that only copper can provide?

In my experience working with metals, copper has proven to be the most versatile. Firstly, it’s soft which makes it easy to bend and cut. It can also be oxidized through heat and/or chemical treatments, which reveal a surprisingly wide spectrum of colors and textures. It’s hard to describe, but there’s a certain familiar warmth to copper that pleases the eye.

What are some of your favorite final pieces?

My favorite pieces tend to be the newest as they show where I’ve been and where I’m headed in my artistic pursuits. The current work represents a culmination of many hours spent over the years experimenting and working with this medium.

Which of copper’s colors or textures do you most enjoy working with?

I love creating deep blue and aqua patinas on copper. This is achieved through an oxidization process using ammonia and a few other tricks. Heat treatments are also great, as they can produce luminescent colors that can be isolated to make copper look like silver or brass.  

What advice would you have for other artists who may be considering using metals (any metals) as their primary element?

Get at it. Start experimenting, start working with different materials. I’m a huge proponent of learning by doing.

What’s next?

I always post new work on my website. Visit for recent creations and upcoming events.

*All photos courtesy of Adam L. Colangelo. Any unauthorized reproduction is in violation of international copyright law


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