The most recent exhibit at Cape Fear Studios, titled Just the Two of Us, supports the idea that many artists in the surrounding area prefer to use a high key palette of color. Halftones, sepia and raw umbers have been replaced with pure colors that explode across the surface of a painting or pastel drawing.
Joanne Gill Worth and Margie Graves, the two artists in the exhibit, are from Southern Pines and both rely upon color to express their ideas about abstraction, the still life and the landscape. Both artists have a preference for the intensity of color over the drab, bright over dull and dark to emphasize light.
Graves’ work is mixed media and abstract. Mood is evoked by using bright colors. The surface of the painting is sometimes modulated through texture. The range of emotions being expressed is deciphered through layers of color, movement and fluidity.
    Graves has a master’s degree in social work and is licensed in clinical social work. Her abstract style has been influenced by a certificate in expressive arts therapy from Appalachian State University.
    The layering effect in Graves’ works illustrates how she fosters her own creativity and methods in the area of expressive arts therapy. Most people are very familiar with art therapy; Graves explains how expressive arts therapy “integrates and embraces all the traditional modalities, sometimes layering several art modalities of art therapy.” Graves further stated that expressive arts therapy is the “practice of using imagery, storytelling, dance, music, drama, poetry, writing, movement, dream work and visual arts, together in an integrated way to foster human growth, development and healing.”
    After understanding Graves was an expressive arts therapist, I was able to bring a new interest to her work that I did not originally experience. The lesson here is sometimes knowing about what the artist is doing can heighten our appreciation of their work. (That said, it is not always true.) 
Grave’s abstract fluidity is in contrast to the work of Joanne Gill Worth. Gill Worth is the exact opposite in that her still lifes and landscapes are constructed through color to be solid — built up by thick mark making techniques using only oil pastels. 
    In the drawing titled Last Tangerine, viewers can see how Worth uses traditional techniques of perspective to create space. In this still life drawing, three tangerines are placed upon a highly decorative blue and white plate. The artist used a bird’s eye view point; we are above the plate and look down upon the still life from a bird’s eye view. Bird’s eye view, a technique in foreshortening, can be the shortest route to create interest for the viewer.
    Worth has the ability to create the recession of space and volume in her work. In particular, Last Tangerine is a work that truly exemplifies the artist’s talent for skill, composition and detail. Using the complementary colors of orange and blue is another technique for maximizing the use of color — one emphasizes the other and makes the other color look even brighter than it is when isolated.
   {mosimage} Worth’s other still lifes and landscapes integrate her use of technique for contrasting high key colors as well as the contrast of light to dark. It appears  Worth is preoccupied with different types of light and the way it affects color on an object or in the landscape. In her still lifes, the light can be from a direct light source or the indirect light from a window to create a backlit light affect.  
    In After the Storm, Worth captures the bold colors of a setting sun before a storm, dark clouds separating to reveal their orange-red and yellow edges through a band blue to turquoise sky. In After Hours, Worth shows us the lighting affect of street lights on a deserted rural road; the street lights spray an area with a limited distance of yellow-white light on dense foliage and a fence-lined street. 
Both artists are well worth the trip to the downtown Fayetteville gallery. Cape Fear Studios, located on Maxwell Street, one block behind the Fayetteville Art Center on the corner of Hay and Maxwell Street, invites you to see the works of Worth and Graves. The exhibit will remain up until June 24. For information call the studios at (910) 433-2986.

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