A fashion photographer once said, “If you look for beauty, you will find it.” It is sometimes difficult in the face of our daily struggles and the bombardment of catastrophic stories coming through on television, online, and through our phones now to keep our thoughts on what is beautiful. But, this may be why this simple suggestion is so important now. Science has shown a correlation between what the mind focuses on and what turns up in our lives, and although this may not be an easily measurable theory, truly most people feel a sense of aesthetic value in observing something beautiful.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was quoted as saying, “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” A simple way to look for beauty is to look at art, and for a couple of weeks in March, the Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library is offering the opportunity for you to do just that. It is featuring an assorted collection from 10 local artists rich in varied styles using materials from paints to pastels to blow torches and even anvils.
The art show times are Tuesdays-Fridays noon-6 p.m.; noon-3:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 11; and noon-3 p.m. on Saturday, March 18.
Most found their passion at a young age and continued with it through school; others came to it more recently. Nearly all of them expressed an intense need to create along with a “personal sense of accomplishment,” as Merle McGregor says. He is a copper sculptor who melts and shapes the metal into designs such as trees, sea turtles and sun faces, some taking up to two days to complete. He describes his intricate designs as sometimes taking on a life of their own and shares, “Everyone has a talent and it’s up to them to explore and nurture it. We all want to express ourselves in one way or another. I found an avenue to express my creativity.”
Artist Lowell Chaput also works with fire to make his creations. He is an artistic blacksmith specializing in forged, architectural and sculptural metal projects who loves the creativity and excitement that comes after completing a project. He describes his work as “varied,” and states, “I produce many items ranging from classical European work to modern contemporary sculpture. In my art I am always looking for that new creation that hasn’t been done before.” Chaput also looks to nature for inspiration, and says, “I look at natural forms in nature to get an inner feeling for my work. Sometimes I just look at a raw piece of steel and visualize a finished shape and form, and then work off of that feeling. I let the metal speak to me
Nature abundantly provides a steady source of inspiration for artists that look to reproduce its rich diversity of subject matter. It holds a cornucopia of material for botanical artist and illustrator Victoria Kochergin. She describes her work as being inspired by, “The beauty, variety and complexity in nature waiting to be noticed and expressed.” She continues, “I am always amazed at the beauty and intricacies in the botanical world. My favorite thing about my art is discovering all the various details and complexity that each flower, fruit and leaf possess.”
Elizabeth Peyton can attest to the work involved in bringing nature to life on a canvas. Her style utilizes watercolor, pen and ink and oils for meticulously drawn botanical illustrations, house drawings and vibrant mixed media collages. “I truly enjoy being immersed in my work,” she explains, “(but) I try not to pay attention to the time involved. One leaf in a botanical-colored pencil drawing can take several hours, and the process of gluing in one multimedia work also takes many hours, before I even start to paint.”
For a new look at horses and other animals, artist Stephanie Rose Long brings a unique flair to western art using what she describes as, “Stylized realism, with the use of bright colors and selective focus, to evoke a personal connection to the subject matter.” Her bold use of color and attention to structure and expression certainly provides an intimate approach and a sense of realism from the fine highlights of individual hair and fur to the twinkle in an eye.
Beauty and creativity can show up in the most unlikely places, and as mentioned above, all you have to do is look for it. That’s what photographer and collage artist Colin Talcroft does. He’s been finding beauty in hidden corners or even in the pavement right under our feet since he was 8 years old. “Abstraction is what interests me,” he says, “I'm always looking for solutions to the core question of abstract composition: what works and what creates a compelling, non-referential image?” He snaps the image, or blends the collage and leaves it up to his audience to find meaning in the piece.
Impressionism is always a favorite as it lends itself to capturing a moment in feeling, almost as an ethereal or numinous expression. Artist Susie Scholefield follows in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother who were painters. She shares, “I grew up smelling linseed oil and turpentine!”
Developing an impressionist style, Scholefield says she likes, “Seeing and painting things as if I don’t know what they are. Painting light instead of ideas.” And, Wendy Brayton, a plein air painter, works in the open air, French style that seeks to embrace the nuances of light and shadow inherent in working outdoors. Her style is a whimsical play on color, unique and still reminiscent of Wayne Thiebaud who made an impression on her as a student at Sonoma State. Brayton’s “happy paintings,” as she calls them are inspired also by the local scenery.