Contemporary Realism Preview
Our sneak preview of the 2021 Contemporary Realism exhibit highlights seven talented artists, each with their own perspective on realism and representation. To view the work and its details, click on any image below. If you would like to purchase a piece, please email the artist name and piece title to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will facilitate the process and get you in touch with the artist for pickup or shipping. We hope you enjoy this preview show!
In these very uncertain and somewhat overwhelming times, I’m focused on balancing my subject matter. I’m also varying between small alla prima pieces and larger, more complex pieces. Beauty comes in many forms. Some days my work is describing people, some days about objects, some days it is about beauty found in the natural world. Always, it is about color and form and what is evoked.
My influences come partially from the places I grew up - Podunk - in Connecticut and the mountains and lakes of Rangeley, Maine. I was also particularly inspired by living and traveling abroad at a young age, especially by a trip to Lapland in northern Norway. Here I realized a strong interest in how people living a self reliant lifestyle, close to and with an essential respect for nature, held a strong intuitive commitment to beauty which is reflected in their daily lives. There was/ is no separation between art and life, the two exist(ed) as an integral part of each other. I found that I desired to become a maker of beautiful objects, and without really knowing why, at the age of 14, chose clay as the medium.
The imagery of women and animals comes from this life long interest of how we as human beings interact with our natural world; the plants and animals around us, and how we choose to integrate their aspects into our daily lives, through nurturing, joining together, stories, craft, food, or family. The figurative themes are not meant to represent any particular culture or race, rather, all of us. Most of the animal images reflect species I feel some connection to and, that now, face issues of pollution or habitat loss.
In all of my designs, pattern and color are compelling dynamics.
I paint from imagination but use photographs and sketches to help me verify the look of things. Once the painting is under way I no longer refer to visual sources and just try to make the best painting I can, hoping that the work will achieve a life of its own independent of the motif.
Making a painting requires an impetus to know … not necessarily to know truth, but to visually realize ideas that definitely cannot be mentally pictured. Art makes concrete what cannot be achieved by other means.
Through my drawing and painting, I try to portray the different layers of existence that surround me, from the mundane to the cosmic. I believe these levels exist in everything: trees, animals, sunsets, people, etc. Everything around me is full of information and wisdom. Creating and identifying helps me remember and connect with people, places, and things. Making these paintings seems like such a random and chaotic process. The rational part of me often wonders at the pointlessness of it. But in the end, I’m always surprised by how much sense they make and how complete and human I feel because of them.
Here we are, sharing a virtual world.
"Virtual : being in essence or effect but not in fact." - Webster’s Seventh New College Dictionary ©1965
There is a song by Libana titled Be Like a Bird. The spring my choir director taught us this sweet melody, I could not get it out of my head.
“be like a bird
who halting in her flight
on a limb too slight
feels it give way beneath her
yet sings, sings
knowing she has wings
yet sings, sings
knowing she has wings”
While I hummed and sang these inspiring words, I worked on the sculpture She Has Wings. When I start a project, I tend to imagine something realistic and classical in form. It never turns out exactly as I’d hoped. Maybe I am making a kind of Virtual Realism.
My art is based on nature and painting from life. Whether painting a landscape or portrait, I strive to convey a sense of time, place, and quality of light. I am most concerned with the result and will use a variety of means to achieve the desired effect. The common thread throughout my art is a celebration of drawing, color, and light.
Susan Tobey White
I create because I must. It’s a need.
I have been a full-time working artist in Maine for the last 20 years. I am known mostly for my paintings of faceless dancers,food series and series of Lobstering Women of Maine which are full of energy and color.
“Why no faces?” My answer: I realized it was not necessary. My dancers are about the motion, the emotion and the colors and patterns of dance.
Why dance? I have learned that my best paintings come from the heart. NO, I am not a dancer, but give me good music, a large canvas and paint...guaranteed... dancers will appear...I am usually moving when I paint! It is a process of embracing the accidents. I often begin my painting by pouring colors on the canvas, layering them until I begin seeing the forms of the dancers. Then I will draw to define the images, add color with a brush, perhaps pour again, and then define with brush, palette knife, spatula or fingers. It is a constant work of balance.
I took a break from the Dance series. It was harvest season. The lush vegetables were everywhere. The first painting I did of my Veggie series was a 4’x5’ of five onions. Then I painted another 4x4 that I titled The Elegant Eggplants. Since then tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, raspberries, garlic have all been welcome subjects. This was a process of drawing with paint, filling in spaces, wiping away colors and layering with transparent colors.
I have had a turn of interest in process and theme by creating a series of the Lobstering Women of Maine. I am using a more traditional approach to painting as I work on these portraits. I want them to be real, and tell the story of these women as well as a piece of the process of lobstering. I have been absolutely obsessed with this project.
Many wonder about the variety of techniques I use. The answer is simple. I was trained as an art teacher learning to use many tools and processes. I feel that each theme is a new problem to solve and often lends itself to a unique technique.