Third Friday Art Walk in downtown Medford offers something for all art fans — whether they prefer realist landscapes or abstract paintings.
The monthly art walk is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, as galleries stay open late and host artist receptions.
Rogue Gallery & Art Center, 40 S. Bartlett St., will offer wine and snacks its reception for "Abstract Perceptions: Paintings by Vince Carl and Susan Lehman." Carl and Lehman have created an artistic duet with their differing approaches to abstract art.
Art du Jour Gallery, 213 E. Main St., is featuring the landscapes of watercolorist-turned oil painter Penny Simmons, as well as a mix of art by gallery artists. Visitors can meet the artists, sample wine and appetizers and listen to guitar, keyboard and flute music by Minstrel Streams.
Simmons says she was inspired to switch from watercolor to oil because of the paintings of others. She began studying books about oil painting techniques.
"I became absolutely fascinated by the versatility of the medium," says the Medford artist. "I hadn't given any thought to changing because I was a devoted watercolorist. But I really decided it was something I wanted to try."
Simmons says she wanted to do more with her art than was possible with watercolor, even though she had spent years working in that medium.
"With watercolor, you're so limited in the corrections you can make," she says. "I couldn't get the depth of color and detail I wanted. I know it can be done, but I couldn't achieve the translucency you can achieve with oil paint. Watercolor is so unforgiving. I began reading everything I could get my hands on and experimenting — and I found out oil painting was really a joyful thing. I was so relieved I had finally taken the leap from watercolors."
During her first forays into oil, Simmons created paintings that could be finished in one sitting. Later, she learned to apply thin layers of color to achieve the luminous, translucent quality she sought.
"Painting layer by layer takes days, weeks, months. It's a slow process, but I love the result," she said.
So far, Simmons is concentrating on landscapes as she continues to hone her skills. She has created several paintings inspired by forays to Union Creek and other rural locales.
In "Egrets of North Bend," she depicts a flock of the snowy, heron-like birds descending on a waterway. Wildflowers dot the foreground, while dark evergreens provide a backdrop for the egrets.
In "Sundown," fading light picks up the sharp details of tall, stream-side grasses, while trees, hills and clouds in the background blur into a soft, Impressionistic scene.
"It's a journey. I think ultimately I won't focus so much on landscape. I feel I am a student. It's especially gratifying to be able to show my art at this stage. I feel privileged to be in Art du Jour with my oils. I do feel like a fledgling artist. All artists struggle with perfection," she says.
On the opposite end of the artistic spectrum, Lehman and Carl avoid direct references to reality and instead delve into abstraction.
Lehman, who lives in Bandon, says all children begin as abstract artists and only later judge their work based on whether it looks realistic.
"We hone our perceptions and our skills and fine motor control until we can create drawings that look like 'real things.' When do we, after achieving this skill level, revert to creating the emotions of the thing instead of the thing itself? Abstract artists learn to value the impression of the light, the nuances of the mood, the expression of the experience of the place rather than the recreation of the image of that place," she says.
Her painting "Gale Force" features powerful, circular brushstrokes of color, evoking the fury of a storm.
In a more still, contemplative work called "Adventures in Grandfather's House," Lehman has added images of vintage family photos to a semi-abstract cityscape of buildings, roof lines, windows and doorways.
Carl, a Rogue River resident, says his abstract paintings record impressions of experiences, feelings and memories.
"Abstraction challenged me in my efforts to create work comprised of elements that are familiar but not quite identifiable," he says.
Carl builds up layers of acrylic paint, charcoal, gold leaf and other materials, then sometimes sands or scratches top coats to reveal clues to an earlier state of each painting.
His piece "Dissemination" mixes transparent layers of luminous color with the rigor of sharp geometric lines and planes.
Regular Rogue Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Call 541-772-8118 or see www.roguegallery.org for more information.
Art du Jour's regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 541-770-3190 or see artdujourgallery.com.
For an added art bonus, Rogue Gallery staff members will show art through Sept. 27 in the Berryman Gallery inside the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave, Medford. The gallery is open before Craterian performances. See craterian.org/calendar.