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Forging Beauty: The Artistry of Metal Oxide Masterpieces

Ed Whitmore is a San Diego artist specializing in metal effects painting and sculpting. Whitmore, a self-taught artist, explained to the Middle Land how he began creating in this niche style, “What drives the work is the medium, which is metal effect paint consisting of iron, copper, and bronze—three metals” He stated that his abstract art can convey a sense of power as he sprays it with oxide, altering the color.     The New Jersey native has had various career paths, from working as a producer at 20/20 to being a consultant at the the largest utility company in San Diego area. His artistic journey began while finishing a dollhouse for his granddaughter, originally his daughter’s. The metal frame of the conservatory area required a unique look achieved by

Ed Whitmore is a San Diego artist specializing in metal effects painting and sculpting.

Whitmore, a self-taught artist, explained to the Middle Land how he began creating in this niche style, “What drives the work is the medium, which is metal effect paint consisting of iron, copper, and bronze—three metals” He stated that his abstract art can convey a sense of power as he sprays it with oxide, altering the color.


Eland (Photo: Ed Whitmore)


The New Jersey native has had various career paths, from working as a producer at 20/20 to being a consultant at the the largest utility company in San Diego area. His artistic journey began while finishing a dollhouse for his granddaughter, originally his daughter’s. The metal frame of the conservatory area required a unique look achieved by using paint with oxide. “I found a company right here in California, in Valencia, north of LA, that made the paint. So, I got some of the paint, took some scrap wood from the garage, put some paint on the wood, and it changed color—it was like magic,” he explained. He further experimented by adding more coats of paint, resulting in a more saturated color.

Ed Whitmore with chisel. (Photo: Ed Whitmore)

Whitmore has created over 300 pieces of metal oxide paintings, describing the paint as ’a million pieces of metal in acrylic paint.’ In addition to painting, he also sculpts tree designs and others. Whitmore shared with Middle Land that he only uses three colors: iron, which turns oxide into a shade of brown; copper, which turns oxide into a shade of green; and bronze, which turns oxide into a shade of blue. Following advice from a New York art instructor, he believes that using three colors has an advantage as it pulls all the different pieces together due to the shared color palette.

While viewing Whitmore’s artwork, some pieces showed similarities to the color of some Shang Dynasty arts, particularly using bronze oxide color. During the Shang dynasty, ceramics, jade, and bronze were widely used materials; bronze was especially noteworthy for its application in ceremonial vessels like the HouMuWu Ding and weapons. The materials were selected based on their spiritual value, beauty, and longevity.

Ed Whitmore’s attention to metal and creative paint effects resembling metal textures link to the ancient use of materials, even though he may not employ traditional bronze casting techniques or jade carving. His use of current materials and methods reflects a modern reappraisal of the importance of metal in art.


Shang dynasty art’s geometric patterns, symmetry, and balance between the useful and the elaborate were among its defining characteristics. Its aesthetics are closely linked to its spiritual and cultural value.

Ceremonial Axe. Shang Ritual Bronzes (14th-11th century BCE). (Photo: Harvard Museum)


In contrast to the exact symmetry of Shang art, Whitmore’s use of metal paint effects and sculpture incorporates modern aesthetics of texture, form, and the movement of light and shadow while also interacting with the aesthetic aspects of the material.

He stumbled into the art industry by accident but continues with passion.

“I consider this a subsidized hobby because I am retired. I am not doing this to support myself; I’m doing it because I like doing it, and I have a lot of fun interacting with people in a world that I knew nothing about in the art world. Shipping my things to people and traveling to places,” Whitmore explained. He attends art conventions and participates in exhibits, investing in himself and targeting places where people buy and collect art. He hopes to eventually see his work featured in more public places and doctors’ offices, providing more positive energy to our society.

Tree of Life. (Photo: edwhitmore.com)


Themes from the Shang dynasty frequently featured animals, legendary creatures, and taoties, signifying the significance of totems and ancestors and beliefs in spiritual realms. Whitmore’s art may use abstract or symbolic forms to parallel Shang elements, depending on the particular themes he explores.

Some of his artwork consists of oxidized bronze metal effects painted on a whale designed out of wood entitled “Blue Whale.” The use of an ancient technique known as a bas relief on a hand-chiseled wood painting of garibaldi fish swimming in a kelp bed with the use of iron copper and bronze metal effects painting entitled “Under the Sea” and a piece entitled “Apocalyptic Vision,” which is a pedestrian bridge hand chiseled into wood plank then painted with oxidized iron, copper, and bronze metal effects paint adorned with olive wood, agate, and railroad spikes. Whitmore has incorporated other animals and sculpted unique artwork with the metal effects paint.

Life Interrupted (Photo: Ed Whitmore)

Although Ed Whitmore’s modern sculpture and paint effects work differs a bit from Shang Dynasty art in terms of technique and intent, they both have a strong understanding of the properties of metal. Whitmore’s modern interpretations and applications are a continuation of the human impulse to explore and express through available materials, reflecting changing times and technologies. Rather than having direct stylistic or thematic parallels, the connection is more about the spirit of invention and artistic exploration.


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