Whitney Knapp Bowditch ~ Summerscapes

“Summerscapes,” Whitney Knapp Bowditch’s new work in oils and charcoal, is full of variety and experimentation with color, surface textures, and brush techniques. The show runs from July 12 -24 at the Jessie Edwards Studio on the second floor of the Post Office building. The opening reception is on Saturday. July 13, from 5-7 pm.

New elements Bowditch has introduced include adding warmer colors to her palette and using a variety of brushes to allow for different strokes and to combine with the use of a palette knife to add greater texture to her work. Cradled wood panels (panels with a wooden frame fixed to the back of the panel) are also a new surface on which she is experimenting.

“Atlantic Twilight” combines all these new elements in a near-abstract rendering of that elusive time when the day slowly gives way to the evening. Dabs of light blue speckle the sky and water, while broad strokes of various blues merge with a subtle pinks along the horizon. Warm yellow strokes here and there contrast with a darker blue in the sky. In the foreground, a deeper blue and touches of green and purple suggest the changing play of the waning light upon the water.

“Independence,” an oil-on-paper, is a spectacular burst of color against a dark sky and perfectly demonstrates Bowditch’s observation that “different brushes create different brush marks.” The title is an apt one for both the subject matter and style, for we sense Bowditch’s freedom of movement and sensibility in her technique. Texture is created by dabs and streaks of turquoise and splotches of white, pink, and green. Smooth bands of green, blue, and black pro-vide the background of sky, sand, and water, while in the foreground, short, black strokes sug-gest the crowd on the beach watching the fireworks.

Figures rarely appear in Bowditch’s work, but in “Beach Bonfire,” another oil-on-paper, in a few deft strokes of color, people stand watch around a roaring fire on the beach. As in “In-dependence,” we see a variety of brushwork and the contrasting of warm with cool tones — the fire blazes against the dark bluffs and illuminates the deep blue water with flames of yellow and lighter blue.

Also unusual in this show are the two 8-inch round oils-on-cradled wood panels. “Port” and “Starboard” are companion pieces showing the views from the bottom deck of the ferry as it nears Block Island. In “Starboard,” we are at eye level with the smooth, undulating waves as we look at sandy bluffs of Clayhead in the distance. The view from “Port” suggests a different ride with its water-eye view of a choppy sea merging into a hazy sky.

Although Bowditch is moving into working more in oil and on smaller surfaces, she still does some larger pieces in charcoal and pastel and in oil-on-canvas. There are four works in charcoal and pastel in this exhibit, and in these she continues to experiment with different textures and tonality. For example, “Promontory” is a view of a rocky shoreline along the bluffs. The sky, water,and beach are smoother in texture and lighter in tone in contrast to the rough edges of the rocks and the bristly, tall grass of the bluffs.

The large oil-on-canvas (30”x40”), “Solitude,” draws us in immediately. A sandy path through tall green grass casting shadows on the path opens onto a sunny beach with blue and bot-tle green waves gently rolling in and foaming on the sand. A dark blue sea melds into a flawless clear blue sky.