Portfolio | Artists of the South

Meet six artists who hail from the southern states

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Arlene Steinberg

Arlene Steinberg, Salsa, colored pencil/wax crayon, 28 x 18.

Arlene Steinberg, Salsa, colored pencil/wax crayon, 28 x 18.

From a row of sprightly pink anemones to a dish of ripe cherries, each and every one of Arlene Steinberg’s still-life drawings boasts rich layers of colored pencil in a gamut of luscious color combinations. Often, the artist enhances her works with wax crayon, and she backlights all her arrangements in the sunshine just outside her Florida home. “I usually photograph my still lifes in the late afternoon or early morning to get that wonderful light,” Steinberg says. “Then what I do is design the backgrounds in Photoshop, and I play with my drawings in Photoshop
a lot to improve the compositions.”

The artist spent 20 years working as a textile and wallpaper designer before discovering a passion for colored pencils in 2000. By that time, she had explored a variety of paint mediums, but none spoke to her quite the way colored pencils did. “Drawing has always been my first love, and when I found out I could combine my love of drawing with color, it was like a lightbulb went off,” she says. “If you look at my drawings, there’s more color than in real life, and they are 100 percent saturated—no paper is showing.”

Capitalizing on her training in textile design, Steinberg also repeats colors, patterns, and shapes throughout her drawings. In one work, for example, the artist created a backdrop with diamond-patterned wallpaper to mirror the delicate lattice patterns of her grandmother’s Tiffany serving plate in the foreground. “I also repeat colors in the shadows of objects,” says the artist. “It’s all to help pull your eye around the composition.” Find Steinberg’s work at Annapolis Marine Art Gallery, Annapolis, MD, and www.arlenesteinberg.com. —Kim Agricola

Booth Malone

Booth Malone, Tomorrow Is Another Day, oil, 16 x 20.

Booth Malone, Tomorrow Is Another Day, oil, 16 x 20.

whether it’s a stealthy foxhound hunt or a high-octane steeplechase, you can bet figurative painter Booth Malone is right there amid the action, photographing every moment. “I like to get out and tramp around,” he says. “If it’s people hunting, I’m there with them. If it’s a horse race, I’m out in the paddocks. I paint things I observe that may not be around forever.”

The Georgia artist is gearing up for an exhibition in May at the Museum of Hounds & Hunting in Leesburg, VA, where he and several other sporting artists showcase their paintings depicting Virginia’s 25 hunt clubs. Malone’s group of paintings capture not just the action of the hunt, he says, but hounds “off the clock,” as well. Various portrayals of equestrian life also fill the artist’s oeuvre, but he’s quick to note that his equine knowledge comes primarily from observation. “I didn’t grow up with horses, and I don’t ride today,” says Malone, who serves as president of the American Academy of Equine Art’s board of directors. “I was attracted to paintings by Remington, Russell, and Munnings, and they happened to be horse artists.”

Though inspired by such classic artists, in his own work the former visual designer says he strives to create “imaginative compositions” with unique points of view, and getting the “perfect shot” of a scene beforehand can be vital. “If you can anticipate something that’s about to happen, just like a hunter does, that’s when you have the chance of getting something special,” says Malone. Find the artist’s work at Cross Gate Gallery, Lexington, KY; Dog & Horse Fine Art, Charleston, SC; and Two Sisters Gallery, Columbus, GA. —Kim Agricola

John Gamache

John Gamache, Time Catcher, oil, 23 x 30.

John Gamache, Time Catcher, oil, 23 x 30.

Whether he is painting the portrait of a stranger or a still life he spent hours constructing, John Gamache works in the slanting light of the sunset to achieve his signature effects. “I like to see that sideways, Dutch lighting in everything I do,” he says. “It gives everything the highlight of warm colors contrasted with the dramatic dark shadows.” Gamache’s work is a kind of stage play, where the main light falls on the subject he wants the viewer to see, while casting the surroundings in shadows. Even when he can control the scene, the light controls his process. “It’s like the sun does my painting for me,” he says.

Gamache was first drawn to art through his mother’s sketchbooks and later through the illustrations in books like Treasure Island. He pursued art throughout school and worked as a traveling freelance illustrator for more than 30 years. In his journeys across the country, Gamache met many artists who inspired him to pursue painting as a career. “Every time I see an artist I like, I want to do what they are doing,” he
says. This desire for experimentation has fueled his artistic pursuits as he paints everything from portraits to still lifes to landscapes. He also creates “art boxes,” where he replicates a famous two-dimensional painting inside an antique wooden box. Then he takes portions of the painting and cuts them out so they take on a new, three-dimensional personality. See Gamache’s work at Aviles Gallery, St. Augustine, FL; www.absolutearts.com; and www.johngamache.com. —Mackenzie McCreary

Gerard Erley

Gerard Erley, Before Twilight, oil, 16 x 20.

Gerard Erley, Before Twilight, oil, 16 x 20.

Landscape painter Gerard Erley is always looking up. The artist’s landscapes sway from warm and vibrant sunsets to cold and cloudy nights, with the sky occupying at least half of the canvas. “In my mind, the land can always be divided up, bought, and sold, but the sky belongs to no one. It is limitless and free,” he says.

Growing up as one of eight kids, Erley found peace and quiet through art. He continued pursuing his passion throughout school and began painting everything he could to break into the art scene. But, while living in the Midwest, he fell in love with the low horizon that stretched into the distance, where the sky took over. “I was always very impressed with what was going on around me,” he says. Later, he moved to South Carolina, where the marshland replaced the flat prairies in his work. Erley is influenced by Romantic and Tonalist painters, including George Inness, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and J.M.W. Turner. The artist works from a place of intuition and imagination. He says he never paints specific places but relies on a combination of memories to create a unique scene.

Erley leaves his paintings open-ended for the viewer by utilizing painterly brush strokes and luminous layers of opaque paint. “I’m not interested in every blade of grass or leaf on a tree,” he says. “I want the viewer to get involved and actively participate in creating the picture.” See Erley’s work at City Art, Columbia, SC; Berkley Gallery, Warrenton, VA; Art Resources Gallery, Minneapolis, MN; and www.gerarderley.com. —Mackenzie McCreary

Mary Garrish

Mary Garrish, Cobalt Blue Sky, oil, 10 x 10.

Mary Garrish, Cobalt Blue Sky, oil, 10 x 10.

In 2005, Mary Garrish bid her medical career farewell and turned her part-time vocation as a painter into a full-time gig. Since then the Florida landscape painter has earned multiple awards and public-works commissions. Adding to those accolades, the National Park Service enlisted Garrish to portray the Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks in a series of representational oil paintings. If the prolific painter seems to be a world away from her 30-year career as a surgeon, her new profession is certainly no less challenging. “Every painting is recreating the wheel,” she says. “I’m never bored.”

Garrish’s voyage into fine art began years ago—and rather randomly, she says—when she drew some animals for her young daughter. “She asked me why they all looked the same,” chuckles the artist. “I said, ‘Because I can’t draw.’ So, I got some books on drawing. I’d always loved math and science, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is geometry—curved lines, straight lines, angles—I can do this.’”

Soon Garrish also discovered a passion for painting en plein air. Through intensive workshops and independent study, the artist has since embraced a variety of techniques and influences, from Luminism to Tonalism. While she paints throughout the world, the self-described aquatic lover always returns to the beaches and marshes around her home in the Sunshine State, where luminous, atmospheric vistas routinely inspire awe and wonder, says Garrish. “Sometimes it’s just a foggy morning, and I think, ‘I’ve got to capture that pink.’” Find the artist’s work at J.M. Stringer Gallery, Vero Beach, FL; Cecil Byrne Gallery, Charleston, SC; The Artist Cove Gallery, Panama City, FL; and Cortile Gallery, Provincetown, MA. —Kim Agricola

Perry Austin

Perry Austin, Sandstone, oil, 36 x 48.

Perry Austin, Sandstone, oil, 36 x 48.

In the Alabama hills, surrounded by trees, mountains, and lakes, Perry Austin lives with his wife at Box Turtle Farm, where he is never without inspiration for his paintings. But his subject matter is harder to define. “I love painting nothing,” he says. “These are scenes that people don’t slow down to look at; they don’t realize it’s there.”

Austin began working as a full-time artist after he was granted six months off from his job with a process equipment company. He had been painting as a hobby while working and had already gained gallery representation. The artist frequently works en plein air, although he later translates those studies into larger paintings in his studio. “Sometimes the warmest spots will be in the distance, and you can only see that when working en plein air,” he says. “But it needs to be a thought-out process, and that happens in the studio.”

Austin says that above all, he wants his realistic, impressionistic paintings to be positive and uplifting. His country upbringing and his home near the Appalachian Mountains turned his bias toward these subjects rather than coastal and urban scenery. “These are the subjects that turn me on, and I can do other work, but I don’t get the same feeling from it,” he says. “It’s like dopamine when I’m out there and I get it right.” See Austin’s work at Beverly McNeil Gallery, Birmingham, AL; Walls Fine Art Gallery, White Sulphur Springs, WV; Germanton Art Gallery, Germanton, NC; Chirpwood Gallery, Opelika, AL; Stonehenge Fine Art Gallery, Montgomery, AL; and www.perryaustinfineart.com. —Mackenzie McCreary

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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