Once again the Marion Art Center (MAC) sparkled with creative genius as its latest exhibit opened on May 24. The gallery walls now display works from two very different painters; works that surprisingly balance each other without sharing a common theme or even painting style.
From now until July 6, art lovers will enjoy the creations of two Rhode Island artists, Janet Gendreau of Bristol and Peter Hussey of Portsmouth. Gendreau is a trained artist working in pastels. Hussey is self-taught and works with watercolors. Both artists’ paintings demonstrate their ability to share a view of the world that is uniquely their own.
Gendreau said of her use of pastels, “I like to work with pastels because it gives me immediate results.” Not having to wait for paints to dry is critical to her being able to capture a moment when the natural light has achieved its zenith for the day.
And capturing that light in coastal scenes or the graceful arc of trees and flowers is Gendreau’s desire, one she executes with a clear eye and gentle hand. The tone of her paintings are lush; the mood almost dreamlike, drawing the viewer into that slice of time with tender grace. Her paintings are in a word sublime.
“You have about two hours if you are lucky,” Gendreau said of working outdoors. By using pastels she can put down the majority of the picture’s intention as guided by her skillful hand. Later, back in her studio, she’ll use photographs to assist her in completing the thought she found and strives to express.
Gendreau studied art in college, finding her passion as an illustrator. But life’s demands pulled her away into the ebb and flow of providing and caring for her family. Once the work of being a Mother and all that it requires in terms of time investment slowed down, she was able to return to painting. For the last eight years she has worked nearly full-time painting, nurturing her talent, and producing works of art that allow the viewer to breath in deeply, taking in the atmosphere she collected out in the field.
Hussey’s work is all about bold colors, linear sightlines, and pieces of architecture that cause one to ask, “What’s beyond that door?” Of himself Hussey said, “I was just born to be in it,” meaning being an artist. He said as a young boy his mother layered his education with vast books on the grand masters, books that intrigued him and sparked his imagination. But in college he studied art history, not art. “I actually got a degree in business,” he said laughingly, “I didn’t want to curate: I wanted to create.” Hussey credits his lack of formal art training with freedom. He said that in the absence of being trained he has allowed himself to explore the best methods to achieve what he sees. And what he sees are strictly executed straight lines that form roof tops, windows, doorways, and other structural elements. His subject matter is a study in patience and exactitude as each square inch his paints becomes singular work of art.
Watercolors are the medium he employs, but no dreamy soft scenes for his artist. “I’m a frustrated architect,” Hussey jokingly said. He has been painting for more than 20-years now and continues to discover not only the beauty that can be found in colors both natural and imagined, but also in techniques.
To give some of his works a brilliance that shines from within, Hussey has begun to use an ancient technique – egg tempera. Egg tempera painting was once a common method used by artists to give their works a sheen that illuminated them. Hussey’s tempera works, such as prisms resting on a desk, display not only the technique, but also his ability to use it with superior results.
Hussey’s works are strong, vivid, pillar-like pieces where color and line combine and stimulate the imagination. Gendreau’s paintings are warm, glowing images of the natural world. Hussey leans towards bringing his viewers a piece of manmade structures seen in a close up, almost abstract perspective. Gendreau invites us to wander slowly and luxuriate in the beauty of nature where we can hear a rustling leaf or winsome bird song.
Hussey and Gendreau’s works will also become part of the Marion Art Center’s Art In Bloom event planned for the evening of June 14. Local floral arrangers will bring their own brand of visual arts to the gallery spaces by pairing flora and fauna, and most likely structural pieces, into creations that re-image and compliment specific paintings.
The center will also be holding a sidewalk sale earlier in the day on June 14. To learn more about upcoming events at the Marion Art Center visit www.marionartcenter.org. To see more about these artists works visit Hussey at www.peterhussey.us and Gendreau at www.southcoastartists.org.
By Marilou Newell