“Layers,” an exhibit at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library by local artist Rosemary Washington, features a series of watercolors by the artist on natural and botanical subjects. An art designer since childhood, Washington – a self-taught painter – decided to return to painting for fun and creative fulfillment after her daughter left college. Finding most of his inspiration in the natural world, Washington began painting from photos and tried to reproduce his subjects with detail and realism, and after retiring committed to painting every day.
The Miller Library has showcased the work of local artists since 2005, and this is Washington’s third exhibition there, according to Rebecca Alexander, manager of reference and technical services at the Miller Library.
“The artists we’re showing here create works that somehow deal with plants, gardens, ecology and nature,” Alexander wrote in an email. “We are looking for artists whose work will complement the particular focus of the library in a unique way.
The exhibition contains a variety of both the size and the subject of the paintings. Some have a smaller focus, such as a small pile of seashells or a cluster of daffodils; others represent larger scenes, like a tunnel of twisted trees.
The paintings are displayed in the middle of the library shelves, inviting visitors to browse the books while admiring the art. Washington’s paintings are characterized by vibrant colors, ranging from jewel tones to fall hues. While her meticulous attention to detail is clear, the paintings still feel spontaneous and alive.
“With the ‘Layers’ exhibit, one of my goals was to come up with some pretty cheerful, colorful and harmonious compositions,” Washington said. “Because I was applying the paint in layers, the overlapping layers would create a new color, so I had to be aware as I wanted something that didn’t shock, and I was also aware of the values going from light to dark as I painted.
For this series, which was painted entirely during the pandemic, Washington did not paint from photos, which it says deviates from its usual practice. Rather, she built each piece from her imagination starting with a few shapes.
“The painting was such a refuge because it was a way for me to be centered and grounded during this kind of time when everything was so uncertain,” Washington said. “I couldn’t physically travel anyway, so it was like creating a retreat at home, having this little painting space on my dining room table.
Washington said she hopes her paintings will bring joy and color to the lives of her audiences and that her story of passion and commitment can inspire others.
“My advice to anyone would be to follow the things in life that make you feel more alive and give yourself permission and time to pursue those things even though other people might not see the meaning,” said Washington.
The “Layers” exhibition will be on display until October 29; free entry.
Contact writer Kate Companion at [email protected] Twitter: @kate_companion
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