Saturday, June 27, 2015

The artists of "Close to Home"

What does Close to Home mean to the exhibiting artists?
Close to Home | May 7, 2015 - June 27, 2015

Dan Michael

Dan Michael takes the show title, Close to Home, to the next level, painting within 25 miles of his home. Most of his work was painted en plein air within walking distance of his home. Dan explains, “I adhere to the notion that a painter is best able to paint a subject that they are familiar with”. He paints what he knows best. While he is familiar with these places, Dan enjoys painting the same scene at different times of the year. He enjoys capturing how the land changes with each season, changing the identity of the space every few months. “I find the changing seasons, and the various atmospheric effects create an endless variety of subject matter”, states Dan Michael.
Woods Behind the House
Woods Behind the House, pastel 18x12
Since I was little, I've been going out to the woods looking for adventure. I'm still doing basically the same thing, I just take more sophisticated toys with me now. --Dan Michael


Fonda Cody

Fonda Cody feels “close to home” with her materials. She explains that she is able to get in touch with her childhood while working with clay. “In my formative years I collected and sorted all kinds of dirt, sand, clay and natural objects in order to make the most beautiful creations”, explains Fonda.
When working with clay, Fonda approaches her work in a spontaneous, exploratory manner. She develops an awareness for each piece, discovering the possibilities and limitations. “The better I know my materials, the easier it becomes to be expressive with them”, states Fonda. Cody’s work offers a feminine, sculptural form. Her pieces are unique in her approach to the clay form.

I allow my love of the wheel to be captured not only in the form of the pot, but in the embellishment of the finished piece. I focus on the basic form, but also combine and contrast textural elements as I investigate the clay and its features. The nature of clay offers me endless opportunity to intuitively express my creative impulses while allowing for a variety of outcomes.Fonda Cody

Amy HR Donahue

In our current exhibition, Close to Home, Amy H R Donahue created her work in hopes that it would be a small reminder to take a few minutes each day and slow down in this busy world we live in. She strives to use her work as a tool to show the every day occurrences in the glory it deserves. At the Opening Reception on May 7th, Amy stated, "...familiar places can be turned into a thing of wonder...". Her work in Close to Home, is a collection of small and large paintings portraying Ashland and Richmond area scenes. Many may agree that Amy successfully completed her mission. When visiting the show, you may see many recognizable structures, such as the Ashland Presbyterian Church, the Ashland Feed and Seed Store, Shops along the railroad tracks, and James River scenes.

Frozen Over at DeJarnette Park
Amy explains, "I am especially drawn to scenes where both land and architecture are transformed by the sun. The light has a way of unifying a scene, saturating the land, turning something ordinary into a thing of wonder". In her piece, A Certain Slant of Light, Amy's interest in capturing the transforming powers of light is present. Amy shows the light shining through the trees on to the old barn roof. The shadows cut across the side of the barn, creating a sense of depth in the space. The shadows draw your eyes in towards the center of the piece, guiding you across the composition.

This element is also evident in her piece, Frozen Over at DeJarnette Park. The shadows of the sun are revealed on the white snow covered ground. Each ray peeking through the branches of the trees in the Ashland park creates a shadow, which leads your eyes across the piece and back deeper into the forest landscape.

The theme "Close to Home" is perfect to illustrate this. Everywhere we turn the light and the colors (or the color as manifestation of light) sing of glory. I hope my paintings are a small reminder to slow down, to look and to marvel. --Amy HR Donahue

Kathleen Walsh

Exhibiting artist, Kathleen Walsh, paints 'close to home' in a sense of family and friends. While her plein air locations may not be physically 'close to home', they hold meaning and importance to her resulting in a personal connection to the space. For example, Kathleen was inspired to paint River Song from a quote of Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician, writer, and philosopher. The quote states, "In difficult times you should always carry something beautiful in your mind". Kathleen found herself remembering these words when they received the news that their neighbor's son-in-law had lost his life in Afghanistan. She settled down one evening on the Rappahannock River, with the quote in hand, and began to paint the calming river scene.

River Song

Kathleen is inspired by the nature around her. She finds inspiration often in the forest, along the river, and out by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Kathleen supports the statement by Pierre Bonnard, "Art will never be able to exist without nature". She believes it take great concentration to distill the beauty of nature into a sketch or painting.