"Lured In" by David Wallis. Photos courtesy of Granary Gallery

Four artists offer rich array of styles

By Amy Simcik Williams - August 17, 2006

What do artists Scott Terry, Karen Larson Turner, David Wallis, and Mary Sipp-Green have in common? All four show at the Granary Gallery, but that's not the answer. Each has decades of experience as painters, and interestingly, three members of this group have a deep connection to art from youth. Together, their love of painting and consummate attention to the craft has led the artists to refine their individual styles and produce an impressive body of work that is currently on display through August.

"Autumn, Afterglow" by Mary Sipp-Green.

Scott Terry's work combines crisp lines and bold blocks of color to portray Island scenes. But his invigorating productions are neither harsh nor overpowering. They do draw the viewer in quickly, though, and each piece seems to have some element of surprise. Like the burst of lemon yellow in "Another Oak Bluffs Patriot." Here, the color brightens a cottage in the center of the painting. Yet, one side of the building, facing the viewer, is splashed with light, heightening the tang of the color.

Another twist is Mr. Terry's winter and night scenes in grayscale. For those who are mildly jaded by sweet and summery Vineyard landscapes and seascapes, check out "The Burning Bush" and "Night Sailing at Nobska." The scenes are natural expressions of the artist's intimacy with the other Vineyard - his time spent off-season and at sea; he has lived here for close to 30 years.

Mr. Terry knew from a very early age that his life would be devoted to art. Traveling around the world convinced him of this, he said. The Island not only became a place to live but afforded him opportunities to paint with a focus on light, not necessarily the subject.

"Chilmark Vista" by Karen Larson Turner.

Magic of light

If for Scott Terry, painting "has always been about the way light strikes objects and creates shadows," then for Karen Larson Turner it is a continual exercise in her own version of luminism, in which brushwork is emphasized. Just by the titles of some of her pieces you can tell where she concentrates: "A Dance of Clouds," "Menemsha Glow," "Sunset at Pecoy Point." Evocative and warm, her skies are masterfully rendered, and immediately transport the viewer into a realm of tranquility.

In "A Dance of Clouds," viewers are swept heavenward from soft, waning light reflected in a pond at the bottom half of the painting. Sunlight is cloistered behind cumulus clouds and becomes the backdrop for the swirling atmospheric masses. Turner sets them in motion by her graceful brushstrokes. Her classical style is evident in every piece - from the voluptuous still life "Trio of Pears" to halcyon land-and-seascapes such as "Chilmark Vista" and "Around the Chop." There's no doubting this artist when she says that by age 14 she started selling her work. Indeed, she began her career when she was old enough to hold a pencil.

David Wallis also showed artistic talent at a young age, and he decided in high school that he wanted to make a living through art. He has achieved that goal and continues to press on, plying his skills in new ways. For example, his frustration with having to keep watercolors behind glass and dealing with paper that tends to buckle eventually led him to use watercolors on canvas.

Mr. Wallis tells a fascinating story about how he discovered the technique and helped a company test new watercolors to ensure the quality, durability, and longevity of its new product. For details, visit the Granary gallery where Mr. Wallis also works. There, his showpiece, "Lured In," awaits. Working with primary colors only, Mr. Wallis makes an harmonious palette and constructs the likeness of a weathered tackle box on which brightly-colored fishing lures are attached. He explores organic shapes and textures with watercolor and allows the medium to produce unusual effects, "to let things happen." Conversely, the fine lines and smooth, color-richness of the piece suggests the use of oil paints. The result is an unlikely hybrid where the look of oil and watercolors mix. Wallis displays several of these pieces in the show.

The show also includes works by Mary Sipp-Green, who paints "twilight." The space between day and night, the word describes some of her impressionistic oil paintings - "Barn at Twilight," "Summer Meadow at Twilight," "Iris Field at Twilight."

"Autumn, Afterglow" presents a heathery field of blue, gray, lavender, and sage green with specks of orange - like an Irish sweater into which bright flecks are woven. A path leads to her signature trees and they figure prominently in the piece. They are reminiscent of Dwight Tryon's, and stand tall and together, mid-field. They also serve to ground the painting and cover a hazy sunset that backlights a barn in the distance.

While the artist said that she has been working as a landscape painter in the Berkshires for the past 20 years, her "methods and aesthetic aims have undergone significant transformations." Nature still informs her paintings, but now she pursues "a less representational, more expressive style." This is seen in the ethereal quality that permeates her work marked by soft colors and repeating elements. Take a few steps back before entering Sipp-Green's twilight zone, and savor the experience. Distance is what the viewer needs to see the whole picture when observing this artist's large, restful paintings.

The Granary Gallery is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm (Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm) at 636 Old County Road, West Tisbury. For more information, call 508-693-0455.