Friday, June 13, 2008

Bonnie Zahn Griffith

One of the joys of visiting Walla Walla these days is the opportunity to view work of local artists as displayed in downtown stores and galleries. Waterbrook Winery's tasting room on Main Street is one such location I particularly enjoy. It is currently showing through July 25 the paintings of Bonnie Griffith in an exhibit aptly named "Summoned by the Landscape." This artist certainly has the rendering of local area mastered. Her artist statement says in part: "My goal is to create work that invites the viewer to "step into" the painting and experience the scene--walk along the road, hike a trail, sit by the river, watch a storm manifest on the horizon--just escape for a moment in time." Having just driven through some of the areas shown in her paintings, I can easily say she is successful in capturing place and mood. It was as if I was back behind the wheel cruising through those hills.

Referring to my photos in the previous post, June commented that she had no idea the hills of the Palouse could be so green. I'm guessing her impression of the area is more like Bonnie's painting "Red Barn" above. In fact the majority of the paintings in this exhibit showed this late summer/fall and a few winter renderings. To be honest, I had forgotten myself that it could be so green. But it is a farming area, and those fields of wheat and alfalfa and peas, etc. have to be green some time!

One of the things my friend and I noticed was how much more impact the paintings that were quite wide and narrow had over the ones more nearly square. It increased that feeling of open expanse, the miles and miles of nothing except for an occasional farm house. It served to emphasize it in the same way that a long and narrow orientation makes a cliff or mountain look higher and more looming. Orientation does matter, does effect the mood and theme of landscape art in particular. In Bonnie's portfolio, the thumbnails are square regardless of the actual dimensions of the paintings, so take the time to click on a few of them to see the effect of those wide and skinny proportions.


magsramsay said...

An insightful observation on orientation. Apart from where there are specific challenge limitations ( eg 12 x 12 inch square for Journal quilt),9/10 of my quilts and paintings are 'portrait 'orientation.I'm just coming to realise that I find myself unconsciously looking for inspiration that will fit that format rather than working out what's the best format for a scene.
Is this artists preference for panoramic view similar? Thanks for making me think!!
Thanks for the comments on my blog too - much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

A year after you visited Walla Walla and my show at Waterbrook, I happen across your blog. Thank you for the very generous comments about my work.
I am in awe of quilters and what you do!
I am adding you to my blog favorites and will be in touch!! The size of the images on the website...the square template is part of the program and you do have to "click" on the image to see the real deal. It isn't a favorite feature. And I l ove to work in the long horizontal format...I think it lets me bring forth more info into the painting.
Keep doing your wonderful art!