High in the mountains, the air is clear and cool. A stream crashes over rocks and down into the valley and over the sound of the water comes the cry of a red-tailed hawk. It sails over the cliffs in search of lunch.
This moment of wildlife comes to you from Linda Parkinson, a watercolorist who has been painting nature imagery all her life. She's part of a group show that will be on exhibit through October. The five artists in the show represent a variety of styles, but they are all after the intimacy and detail that comes from spending a lot of time with their subjects; the ability to illustrate a scene so well that you can hear the water, feel the tang of the air, smell the pines.
Susan Fox's wild Mongolian horses, Shawn Gould's animal portraits, Marsha Mello's intaglio etchings of birds, Paula Golightly's beach and dunes landscapes and Linda's animals in their habitat fill the walls of the downtown Eureka office. Their work captures the small moments of beauty, the awe-inspiring vistas and the endless detail of the natural world.
Susan Fox travels extensively to places as far-flung as Mongolia and Kenya to capture images of wild horses, lions and zebras, or stays home to portray the Marbled Godwit and other local treasures. Susan says, "Animals are all individuals just as we are, with their own habits and quirks. It is this individuality of our fellow sentient beings that I always aspire to communicate in my work along with the beauty and intrinsic value of the places where they live."
While Fox's work is soft and painterly, Shawn Gould's painting style is characterized by precision. I imagine him hunched over his easel, peering through a magnifying glass and using a brush with individual hairs. I've never actually watched him paint, that's just the image that his work brings to mind.
"There's something about the interconnectedness of nature that I find really fascinating," says Marsha Mello, whose sparse prints and watercolors give the viewer an intimate and detailed look at small birds and insects. By being selective of the detail she includes, she brings the viewer closer to subject she's portraying, bringing us into a relationship with them. The starkness of her work, done principally in black and white, contrasts with the rich color and activity of the other art works, but there is room for both.
Paula Golightly, whose work tends to be more landscape and less animal then the others, balances her art career with a full-time job as a wildlife biologist. "The art allows me to express what I think is important in a different way, rather then communicating it in a very technical way," she explains. In either career, she's following a passion for the natural world that is tangible in her work.
Linda Parkinson states, "I am enchanted by the beauty of the natural world and hope to co nvey my personal experiences with light and color." This is a theme that runs through the show, despite the differences in style. All of the artists work originated in their deep love of the outdoors. They all strive for accurate detail and the spirit that infuses a work only when the artist has been in the setting and seen the animals first hand.
Wild Visions is on display at Cochrane and Associates at 402 E St. in Eureka through the month of October.