July Gallery Show “Complement Conversations” Invites Engagement

by Carla Scheidlinger

Paintings of flowers and plants were very well represented in this show. In addition to two that were singled out for awards, it is worth taking a look at some others that made good use of complementary colors. Reds and greens offset each other naturally in “Blooms” by Donna Arnaudoff . The complements of blue and orange are featured in “White Chrysanthemum” by Rhonda Anderson, “Pink Roses by Mary McWilliams, and Sharon Hinckle’s “Roses in a Blue Vase”.  All three also capitalize on the red-green complement using highlights and leaves. They are all very different interpretations of a similar theme, and are highly individualistic paintings.

The San Diego Watercolor Society (SDWS) is exhibiting its second gallery Members Show since the closure for the gallery due to COVID-19. The theme of the show is “Complement Conversations”, and it showcases artists who are extremely conversant with color combinations. The high contrast of complementary colors creates a vibrant look, but must be managed well so as not to be jarring. The juror for this show, Dean Mitchell, selected three winners from the regular size paintings, a first for miniatures, and a best of theme for both regulars and miniatures. This review calls attention to other paintings in the show that make excellent use of complementary colors.

Images of people also worked the complementary colors theme. Chuck McPhereson captures a variety of shades of orange and blue in “Gabriel Blow Your Horn”, separating them nicely into foreground and background.  Beverly Berwick’s “He Ain’t Worth It, Honey” captures our attention with the same complements, pulling in reds and greens as well to create a particularly vibrant painting.

Animals seem to present a natural setup for complementary colors. The blue-orange complementary pair is visible to great effect in the elephants of Terri Nelson’s “Walk Away”, the appealing dog in “Ruby” by Susanne Slater, the powerful tiger of Gloria Chadwick’s “Striped Traveler”, and the fluffy “Toy Poodle” in Keming Chen’s painting, which also touches on a purple-yellow complement. The lizard on the head of the Buddha in “Catching the Light” by Stephanie Van de Wetering captures a green-red complement that is both stimulating and soothing.

Landscapes also present a natural opportunity for complementary dialogues to the artist who is prepared to see and portray it. Perhaps because I paint landscapes myself, I was prepared to see and appreciate quite a number of such paintings in this show. The blue-orange complementary pair is found in Elaine Harvey’s “Something in the Surf” with waves and sun competing for attention; Betty Hock’s “Making Up” where a late-afternoon ray of sun focuses our eye on trees and beach;  and in Jami Wright’s “High Desert Buttes” in which strong light converts a gold butte to a deep purple. It is perhaps most elementally represented in “Joshua Tree National Park2” by Irena Noreikaite Petraitien, where the dialog is simply between blue sky and orange rock. “After Sunset” by Beatrice Shushan captures purple and yellow as complements, using some blue to complement the yellow as it fades into orange-gold. Elaine Harvey’s “Cool Spot” works rocks, water, and sky for this purple-gold-orange conversation as well.  The red-green pair is found in the sky and verdant foreground of “Sunset Over the Fields” by Susan Weinberg-Harter, and in the almost abstract polygons of foreground and background in Carla Scheidlinger’s “After the Fire”.

Cityscapes converse well in complements too. “Fashion District” by Louisa McHugh uses yellow and purple to create depth and warmth. Keming Chen achieves similar results in “Morning at Airport, Indonesia” using a restrained and almost bi-chromatic palette.

Still life paintings that speak to the complementary colors theme include “Colorful Aphrodite”  by Karen Weir, which is rendered almost entirely in purple and yellow.  Reds and greens are the principle complements in the tomato-toned glass and green garnishes of Nancy Rizzardi’s “Sipping Salad”. Lois Athearn captures a blue background that sets off the orange tones of the guitars in her “Music and Martimi’s”.  

Pure abstract images are less well represented in this show, but “Intrusion” by Lera Baker Smith merits a mention for the very fluid use of reds and greens as a complementary pair.

There are many other wonderful paintings in this show that did not necessarily address the theme. A couple of paintings that my own eye kept coming back to, for example, are “Winter Lake” by Gail Rogers, and Marty Atwell’s “Tranquility” which I admired for their simplicity and sensitive use of both strong and soft colors. I strongly encourage you to peruse them all, either on line at https://www.sdws.org/galleryart.php?cat=6969&s=0 or in person at the SDWS gallery at 2825 Dewey Rd, Suite 105, Building 202, San Diego, CA 92106 between 11 and 3 Thursday through Sunday. What captures YOUR eye? Consider trusting your eye’s attraction, and make a purchase!

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