New Oils by Whitney Knapp Bowditch: Alive with New Colors and Contrasts
In “Islandscapes,” an exhibit of 29 new oils on paper and on wood panels, Whitney Knapp
Bowditch continues experimenting with contrast in color, texture, and tone. Painted within the last eight weeks, the oils will be on exhibit at the Jessie Edwards Gallery on the second floor of the Post Office building from July 10 to July 22. In a “Meet the Artist” video on Wednesday July 8th , she will talk about her work in this exhibit, and there will be a “Gallery Walk Through” shared online Friday afternoon where visitors can enjoy the exhibit at their own pace. The show will be hanging in the gallery to view during our open hours and private viewings can also be arranged by contacting the gallery.
In these newest works, Bowditch has combined muted tones with areas of high color, switching often from brush to palette knife depending on where more or less texture was desired. The blending of tones and techniques is at the heart of her works’ vitality. “I love the element of surprise, for me as the artist, and also for the viewer, I hope, that comes from the movement from light to dark and muted tones to dynamic ones, ” she said recently.
Her approach is especially apt for conveying the many contrasting aspects of Block Island, where one part of the island can be cloaked in mist while another part basks in sunlight … and that can change in the time it takes to switch from brush to palette knife. For example, in, “Foggy Shoreline,” the muted and brushed on tones of grey, blue, green, and brown unify the sky, waves, and rocks, and soften the impact of the surging surf and the texture of the rocks; yet, with a few scrapes of the palette knife, we sense the sharp edges of the rocks and the frothiness of the surf.
In contrast, in “Distant Shore,” the bluffs and the gentle waves are bright with sunlight while the fields and sky are more softly lit. Similarly, in “East Beach at Low Tide,” the light gives texture to the sand, the pools of water, and the face of the bluffs in the foreground. In the distance, the foliage, bluffs, and wide blue sky are blurred and softened. Again, in “Dunes at Dusk,” the bright green tones and the texture of the foliage in the foreground is in relief against the soft pastel hues and smooth surface of the water and sky beyond.
In “Afterglow” and “Seneca Sunset,” Bowditch has introduced another color that is nearly impossible to name — a combination of orange, pink, and red that creates dramatic bursts of color in contrast to the shadows of shore and skyline.
To dramatic effect, she has brought more black into her early morning and night pieces. For example, in “Illuminated Cove,” black and grey clouds at the top are broken by brilliant moonlight that shines across the surf while the dunes on the left are in deep shadow. In “Last Light,” bright light from a moon rising into dark clouds shimmers on blue-black water and across the shoreline depicted nuanced tones of blue, grey, and tan, and on the deep green brush in center right.
In a remarkable departure from the usual yellow and rose hues associated with sunrise, “Daybreak” shows us a dark sky and water with a bright white sun rising into sweeps of clouds. Streaks of yellow and dashes of purple in the clouds and on the beach suggest a warmer light to emerge later in the day. “Daybreak” is also one of Bowditch’s works that verges on abstraction in blending the shore, sea, and sky. Another is “Lune sur L’eau,” a swirl and sweep of blues, white, silver, and black as the moonlight illuminates the sky and water.
The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from 11-4pm, , Monday 10 – 3pm and Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment. For more information, call the gallery at 401-466-5314 , or follow on Instagram @JessieEdwardsGallery.