Fountainhead Gallery, April 2-30
This story was featured in the April 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Many of us long for an escape to Provence, a fantasy so vivid that we can practically smell the spicy camphor crush of lavender beneath our feet. And while Valerie Collymore’s personal history is deeply steeped in this sensual place, she prefers to bring forth something less typical with her deft, bold brush strokes. “I have a gift for remembering the colors and the feelings evoked by a place,” she says. It is such less obvious, more ephemeral qualities of the region that are captured in the 20 impressionistic canvases on display this month in her solo show at Fountainhead Gallery, entitled Oil Paintings From Provence: Landscapes, Seascapes, and Wooden Boats.
Collymore’s current body of work was born from her most recent annual visit to the south of France, where she lived from age 9 until she returned to the States to pursue a degree in medicine. The Seattle-based artist personally welcomes guests to the opening reception at the gallery on Saturday, April 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., where they can escape into her series of evocative landscapes, seascapes, and harbor views.
The painter notes that she is particularly inspired by the bright hues of certain boats, their gracefully curved shapes, the architecture of ports, and the ways ocean craft, even the small and colorful wooden ones—a vanishing species—strongly connect to seafaring history, bravery, and the mastery of navigation. “In my teenage years, in these French Mediterranean seaside towns,” she notes, “you would see the fishermen darning their nets at dusk—these images stay with me still.”
Looking at Collymore’s paintings, it’s easy to imagine that they’re engaged in a sort of dialogue with the works of Impressionist master Paul Cézanne—a conversation whose vocabulary is one of light, line, value, and color. Both ouevres are dominated by the singular Provençal landscape—its parasol trees, dusky fields, rocky outcroppings, single-room stone houses, and startlingly blue waters, all suffused with a consistently brilliant light.
Fountainhead’s Ron Peterson, gallery co-owner with his wife, Sue, enthusiastically confirms such observations. “Valerie’s work is in the tradition of French Impressionism,” he observes. “But it is her version of an environment that is in her bones. The canvases resonate with that connection. And she creates really beautiful paintings.” —Lynn Dubinsky
MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
• Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
• Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
• Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook