If you step inside the Artists’ Gallery on Main Street in Ellicott City and have a look at Jane Knighton’s exhibit “As I See It,” you will notice that nine of the paintings depict scenes that are just a short walk from the gallery.
A notable aspect of how Knighton sees the historic district is that these are small paintings with tightly cropped subjects. A really tiny painting titled “EC Strong,” for instance, presents a mini-skyline that mostly consists of the courthouse cupola and a church steeple at the top of the composition.
Down at street level, “Shopping on Main Street” calls your attention to a couple of women standing in front of a shop window.
Some of the paintings give clear indications of the time of year or the time of day. In “Taylor’s in July,” several American flags proudly hang over the sidewalk. In “Cusp of Summer at Caplan’s,” the street scene is suffused with twilight colors; and in “Main Street Glow,” cars and street lights provide pinpoints of light at night.
The other paintings in her show range from regional scenes to visual records of her travels elsewhere in this country and abroad. These landscape paintings stylistically tend to utilize visible brush strokes that reinforce the sense of an artist responding to natural scenery.
In “Around the Parkway Bend,” the curving road is conveyed with thick brush strokes that are themselves sometimes curved. The background trees in this painting are depicted with brusque brush strokes that give a sense of branches and greenery.
That sort of brushwork is especially effective in depicting atmospheric effects at sunset. “Crisfield Light Show” has bursts of yellow placed above purple-hued trees and yellow-inflected blue water. “Day’s End in Iceland” features quite a bit of purple that has worked its way into a blue sky.
The artist’s travels include the American Southwest. “Sonoran Hike” is a spare desert landscape containing a low-growing cactus in the foreground and three very tall cacti looming in the background. “Land of O’Keeffe” does, indeed, evoke Georgia O’Keeffe with its open landscape that has pink- and orange-toned mountains way off in the distance.
As in the Ellicott City-themed paintings, most of the landscape paintings do not have any people in them. There are the occasional exceptions, as in “Tourists of Varenna, Italy.” Five tourists are seated on a bench, and it’s a sweet detail that two of them are eating ice cream cones. The tourists’ faces are a painterly blur and, for that matter, their bodies also nearly blend into the yellow-hued wall behind the bench. So, even when people appear, the emphasis remains on buildings and landscapes.
Occasionally, Knighton opts for a different painterly genre. A colorful example that falls within the still-life tradition, “Chili Mix” depicts an overturned basket from which orange, yellow, red and green peppers have spilled out. The background behind the basket and peppers is so abstracted that it really just consists of zones of purple, green and yellow. It’s a warm mix of colors.
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Jane Knighton exhibits through Aug. 25 at the Artists’ Gallery, 8197 Main St. in Ellicott City. There is a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17. Call 443-325-5936 or visit artistsgalleryec.com.