Sedona artist Mary Dove captures the bright sunlight of the Arizona desert. She imbues the subjects of her work with vibrancy, clarity and color. To see more of her portfolio, please visit her website.
The question I’m most often asked is, “How do you select your subjects to draw or paint?” There is no easy answer, as there is no selection formula. The process is intuitive. It begins as a feeling that catches my attention and the next consideration is whether or not, “The image in trapped in my head.”
My major concern is, “Does the subject contain a challenge; an area or texture I’ve never painted before?” “Is there an experience in this adventure which will contribute to my personal artistic growth?” With these boxes checked, the subject is saved in a “To Paint File” for later consideration.
By the ninth grade I was a portrait artist. I learned perspective, which added to my art experience and influenced my decision to major in college architecture. In my ninth grade art class, we went outside, sat on the curb, and selected a home across the street to draw in two point perspective.
With my architectural experience in college, it was easy to fearlessly become engaged with all forms of architectural structures. As a high school art teacher, the one aspect I taught the students was to pay attention to the values (lights and darks) occupied within the first four lines on the painting, the outer edge of the subject area. Sunlight, for me, is the most important aspect of painting. Sunlight provides a setting to contrast bright light against strong shadows.
This process is expressed in my watercolor titled Sunlit Patio, which gave me the opportunity to make the light and shadows dance throughout the painting. Depth is created by looking through the gate and the patio window.
Texture was the challenge for the Autumn of Life; a play on words—it is the autumn of the year and the autumn in the life of the structures in this painting. I created two different enclosure effects as one looks through the coop: one being rusted bent wire, and the second being chicken wire. Yet I didn’t allow either wire texture to be dominant or a distraction in the painting. All the parts of any painting need to sing together.
The Blue Domes of Santorini was a drafting challenge, but I enjoyed executing this detailed subject and getting the painting finished. A secondary challenge was the introduction of negative space to this watercolor. For me, incorporating negative space with any subject matter requires a strong mental focus. My constant thoughts were, “Is the story complete, is it understood by the viewer, can I stop now having introduced the strong element of negative space?”
Sometimes I choose to paint the soul of the subject, such as Dry Beaver Creek Sycamore. This is an old, dying sycamore tree in a dry creek bed; once a beautiful tree, now in its last phase of life. Here, the challenge was to capture a strong spirit with a will to live.
My flowers, painted in watercolor and oils, stand in the same design light of execution and technique as an architectural structure. I’m a portrait artist of people, animals, structures and nature.
Currently, I’m working on a complex Prescott, Arizona Rodeo Bronco Rider painting in memorial to Bill Louf, an experienced photographer from Sedona who was a friend, a wonderful teacher and an excellent graphic printer of my original artwork in a fine art format.
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