The reception was very fun yesterday. We had a good turn out with the Art Walk also going. Over 50 people, just for the reception alone. I'll take it! Music was playing, wine was flowing, and a there was lots of lively conversation. Yay! Thank you to the gallery mates and my wifey, who helped run things while I chatted up patrons. But not to fret if you missed it. At the very least, you'll have this "virtual reception" to browse through.
I also had an article run in the local paper (The Benicia Herald) on Friday, which was fun. It talks about my process a bit.
Often, watercolors are considered beautiful, but pale and washy. But they don’t always need to be that way! If luscious color juxtaposed to nuanced greys and darks excites you, then “Vibrancy”, Stephen Berry’s September show at the Benicia Plein Air Gallery, is just for you.
Berry is one of those chatty artists that gets very excited talking about art. “All the world is… vibrating with light,” he says, moving his hands about, “and one of my desires is to bring that sense of color and vibrancy to the viewer’s eyes, as if the paper were lit from behind! What really makes those bold colors sing, though, is how you compliment them- the colors you team them with and the greys that work in tandem. And thus the focus of the show is that dynamic pairing.”
Berry's loose, gestural paintings are inspired by places both close to home and far flung- Hawaii and Muir Woods, Alameda and the south of Spain, Guatemala and good ol’ Benicia- but the love of nature expressed in the work is universal. While traveling he takes photos, sketches compositions, and paints plein air, gathering material for his future studio works. In Vallejo, he sets up shop in his little back room studio, and gets to work. He paints standing up, and he’s clearly having fun- playing music, singing and bopping around a bit as he channels his memories and on-site studies into something new.
With a single-minded focus, Berry sometimes paints the same subject 3 or 4 or more times. He tapes them all up on the wall, which is a mishmash of 20-30 paintings, some layered one on top of another, and stares at them. Some are good ones that will make it into the show, others only studies, others outright failures. Each is done quickly, within only a few hours, to keep the brushwork and outlook fresh, but each iteration also has its own personality, as Stephen tries out different ideas and approaches. “My goal isn’t necessarily to replicate what I physically see in nature,” he explains, “but instead to paint an image that will create for you the emotional experience I myself had when I was there. So I stay true to the memory and feeling of the place, not to the incidental details.”
Please note that I'm going through the process of opening an online store too. That should be fully up and running in the next week or so. In the mean time, preliminarily, all the paintings in this blog post are available for purchase online. Below each painting, you'll see a Buy It Now button. If you click it, it will take you to my Store, where you can purchase paintings through PayPal. Paypal, of course, takes credit cards, or you can sing in to your account. If you're a local patron, please contact me through the Contact page, and we can arrange a time to meet in person. Please note that the prices for framed pieces in the gallery are different than the unframed paintings sold online.
I actually sold the painting below, before the show even began, on Friday (thank you Eddie and Jan!). Instead, I brought in a 3rd painting from the Alameda Bird Sanctuary, and made a triptych.
As I've been manning the gallery the last few days, as well as today (Sunday, Sept 10th), I get to bring in additional work. These pieces have been hung outside, and in additional free spots in the gallery.
And that's it for now! I'll be in the gallery today (Sunday, Sept 10th), and then I'll be back in the gallery (with the "additional" paintings) Saturday and Sunday, September 23-24th. If you've got any questions about the paintings, about technique, where they were located, etc. please let me know. That's what receptions (virtual and physical!) are all about.