Water, Water Everywhere

Article Published: Jul. 21, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Water, Water Everywhere

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's celebrated poem, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," the hero describes his voyage into uncharted seas, "As idle as a painted ship; water, water, everywhere ... nor any drop to drink."

Area artist Joan Sporn isn't lost at sea, and fresh water abounds in the High Country, but the "painted ship" caught the attention of Alta Vista Gallery owner Maria Santomasso-Hyde.

She'd been noticing a trend in Sporn's paintings - water. From there, the two dove right into a concept show, "Water, Water Everywhere," this month at Alta Vista in Valle Crucis.

"There's just something very attractive and enticing about water," Sporn said. "I had a couple paintings already, and I thought it sounded like a good subject, a good theme."

And it's a vast theme. Sporn hasn't limited her painting to only the sea, as the show features water in varying capacities, from rivers to lakes to streams to San Pellegrino mineral water.

Sporn captures her subjects through photography and then recreates the scene to her imagination's extent in her studio.

"That's what you call artistic license," she said. "You make your own mountain, your own trees."

Sporn's paintings are in oil and acrylic, some done by brush and others by palette knife.

"The photo dictates certain things," she said. "If it was a picture I'm going to do of people, I wouldn't even think about using my palette knife."

She's admitted to a growing fondness for the tool, also using it in combination with her brushes.

"It makes me feel very free and more involved in the painting, when I can grab a glob of paint and just go for it," she said. "I think the strokes come out very nice."

This is especially true for water and its reflective quality.

"There's a peacefulness to it," Sporn said. "Tranquility and peacefulness would be two words that come to mind."

But there's another side.

"If it's still water, it's peaceful, but if it's moving water, like in our mountain streams, it's envigorating," Santomasso-Hyde said. "In Joan's show, you get both, and she's captured both - exciting waters and the still waters."

"Water, Water Everywhere" features 17 pieces, 14 of them brand new. Their subject matter spans the world, from Italy to France to Florida to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

"I like changing and doing something different," Sporn said. "I think painting just changes a little bit with time. I look back on things I've painted five years ago or 10 years ago, and without even trying, I think you simply develop. You, hopefully, are always getting better. That is something I think every artist - no matter what field you're in - wants. Don't get stagnant just because it's a formula that works. That's just not me. I like the adventure of trying something new."

Alta Vista Galley will host an opening reception on Saturday, July 23, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring a meet-and-greet with Sporn and refreshments from Shelton Vineyards.

The gallery is located at 2389 Broadstone Road in Valle Crucis, right between the Mast Farm Inn and Mast General Store Annex.

For more information, including directions, call (828) 963-5247 or visit http://www.altavistagallery.com.

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