Anyone who in interested in art knows there are an incredible variety of mediums that can be used to express yourself. 2D and 3D modes of creativity abound and offer artists so many options. As a Gallery owner, I speak with so many artists and those who appreciate art. Every day I hear a variation of “I wish I could do that!” or “I can’t even draw a stick figure!” But what fascinates me is when an artist in one medium marvels at the difficulty of another. People who manipulate clay, but drool over the texture and richness of oil paint…..oil painters who can’t understand how people can use acrylics – they dry too quickly! Ah, and the many artists who have tried to conquer watercolor – it’s unforgiving!
Yes, each medium has its beauty and its challenges. Painting in watercolors is in singular challenge. Is my paper too saturated? Can you see my pencil lines? Are my colors muddy? And when you’re finished….why can’t I get this paper flat!?!!? (Sorry, but I’m also a framer, so I have to mention this one!)
Watercolor painting is definitely a challenge for artists. But those who do it well, those who thrive on that challenge…they are able to deliver stunning results. With watercolor, your image can be sharp and defined, or have gorgeous softened edges. You can blend and soften edges into the infinity of white that is your paper. Colors can blend through intent, or sometimes a “happy accident” and interact with each other in ways that make your heart sing. Can you tell I enjoy watercolors?
On June 9, a new exhibit of watercolors opened at Framations Art Gallery in St. Charles. The exhibit, Fluid: Exploring Watercolor II, features 41 paintings by 18 artists from the St. Louis Region. Amongst these pieces are those that have won judges awards. The gallery also does a People’s Choice award, where visitors can stop in any time and vote for their favorite – fun for all ages, by the way! Like most of us, I feel art is very personal-our reactions to it and attachments to it. So I thought I’d offer a preview of the exhibit, featuring a few of the pieces that I found striking, all for different reasons.
One of the things I find attractive about watercolors is the ability to blend and bleed the paint. The challenge of course is to get the paint to stop and start where you want for the desired effect. In Beeline, artist Janine Helton creates not just this wonderful blur of flowers, but give a true reason and purpose for it. With the subject matter, a bee approaching its feast, we can actually see the movement and motion that a bee might see as it darts toward its target. There is a softness and subtlety to the flowers, but Helton has defined the bee, showing the viewer that she has control of the medium.
Another artist who shows great control and planning of her medium is Lee Walter. In her piece Holding Fast, we see a nice example of Walter’s pour technique, where she plans out each section of color and strategically masks and pours each hue. This technique mimics the look of a wood cut print, except for the subtle color shifts that she achieves through the pour of paint.
In watercolor, leaving the white of the paper untouched can be used in multiple ways. In the simple, yet very detailed Ornamental Corn, Jody Williams has focused her attention on the variety showcased in a single ear of corn. The beauty comes from her attention to the shape, size and color of each and every kernel. The result is a testament to her love and attention to botanical art.
Where Williams’ painting is light and subtle, Tucson Sunset by Linda Wilmes is much the opposite. Using deep, heavy tones that are rich shades of blue grey, Wilmes surrounds the viewer with the stormy mood of a fast approaching evening. The flowing movement created by the clouds and the variation of colors demonstrates both the speed and fluctuation that often brought by change in sky as night approaches.
Now one last piece to mention just for fun. Sometimes a splash of color just hits you, draws you in. In Pick Your Coconut, you can truly see that artist Linda Meyer enjoys color. One of the larger pieces in the exhibit, Meyer has used the scale of the watercolor to maximize her use of color. The composition and details have wonderful movement that truly looks like an explosion of color. Sometimes you just need to rock the boat and have a little fun.
Speaking of fun…summer is a wonderful time to visit Main Street in St. Charles. There is so much to do and see. And so many places to eat and then of course get ice cream. So in the midst of your fun this summer, plan to see some wonderful art as well. Or better yet, start with the art and stick around for more. Because there’s always more on Main!
Framations Art Gallery is located at 218 North Main Street in St. Charles, Mo 63301. This exhibit is on display through July 13 and the gallery is open Tues – Sat 10-6 and Sundays 12-5. Find out more at www.framations.com or call 636.724.8313.