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Laurel Art Guild on view at Bernice Kish Gallery in Columbia

Howard County Times

The group exhibit by the Laurel Art Guild at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House serves as a reminder that artists may work alone in their studios and yet they often have organizational ties that facilitate getting their work on public view.

A nonprofit organization founded in 1967 and located at Montpelier Mansion, the Laurel Art Guild’s approximately 50 members join together for exhibits, educational presentations and workshops. The group also sponsors scholarships for high school students.

The organization’s exhibition coordinator, Diane Shipley, oversaw the current show at Slayton House. She’s also among the exhibiting artists there, with three of her own watercolors and one acrylic painting on display.

Two of Shipley’s watercolors, “White Velvet” and “Mellow Yellow,” are floral abstractions in which the close-up compositions prompt the viewer to look at overlapping washes of color.

“Everybody does flowers, but I do close-up views in an abstracted sense,” Shipley said. “I always work from photographs I’ve taken, and I also have a garden and go to other gardens.”

Shipley’s third watercolor in the exhibit, “Winter's Blanket,” is a landscape in which the snow-covered ground has shadows cast by bare trees. In this watercolor, Shipley said she was interested in how “the snow was draped over” the landscape.

Shipley finally has plenty of time for painting. The 70-year-old Beltsville resident retired from her job at the International Monetary Fund in 2008 and has been a member of the Laurel Art Guild since 2010.

“I had put my painting on hold for 40 years. When I retired, I realized that this was what I wanted to do,” Shipley observed.

As for wanting to do floral close-ups that verge on abstraction, Shipley noted that “sometimes I start paintings thinking it will be realistic, but then it changes. It’s all in the process. I definitely take liberties with colors.”

And where the medium of watercolor is concerned, she explained that “I like watercolor because you never know what you’ll end up with. It may flow where you don’t want it to go, and it blends with other colors so that blue and yellow run together and make green.”

Among other artists in the Kish Gallery exhibit, some work in watercolor and others in pastel, oil, pencil, photography and mixed media. Whatever the medium of choice, these artists find ways to express their creative response to the world around them.

Deanna Williford’s watercolor “Chinese Peony” features pale pink for the floral petals and equally light shades of green for the leaves. Set against a white background, this peony has such a subdued presence that you are encouraged to contemplate it.

Working in a different medium and yet also establishing a quiet mood is Mary Ellen Simon’s pastel “Afternoon Glory.” The lawn, picket fence, trees and other landscape components have a softly assertive presence here, and the long shadows on the ground reinforce the sense of a day heading into its final hours.

For more shadows on a landscape scene, have a look at Carol Leo’s watercolor “Snow Sonata.” It features heavy snow on trees that cast blue-toned shadows on the snowy ground.

Emphasizing a particular color within a scene is also seen to strong effect in Sally Davies’ watercolor “Flags at Washington Monument.” This tightly cropped composition calls your attention to purple-hued stone walls that reflect the artist’s response to atmospheric conditions on a given day.

Although the majority of artists in this show are working in either watercolor or pastel, those working in other mediums include John Cholod. His black-and-white photograph “Journey” depicts a winding country road that runs through misty woods. It's definitely appropriate to be viewing such a scene at this time of year, because the bare trees flanking that road cast long shadows on the ground.

Also exhibiting are Raymond Robinson, Ofelia Moore, Pauline Clatterbuck, Daniel Venne and Leigh Marget.

The Laurel Art Guild exhibits through Dec. 15 at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in Wilde Lake Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-3987 or go to gallery@wildelake.org. For information about the Laurel Art Guild, go to laurelartguild.org

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