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Artists (from left) Gail Guirreri-Masylk, Teresa Duke, Antonia Walker and Carol Iglesias take part in '4 Women Paint' at the Live an Artful Life Gallery in The Plains.
The four artists produced different takes on the simple still life of fall flowers and apples on a table.
THE PLAINS--The subject for the four paintings was the same simple still life: a vase of fall flowers with some apples below.
But with different artists bringing their own styles and experiences to bear, the images they created in just four hours were unique.
For Tom and Linda Neel, who operate the Live an Artful Life Gallery in The Plains, that was exactly the point of the recent event "4 Women Paint."
In the event at the gallery in the middle of this quaint Fauquier County town, the four artists set up their easels at different spots in a circle surrounding the still life.
Their assignment: in four hours, use their oils or pastel chalks to capture the colors and sense of the image on canvases of different size.
The artists--Carol Iglesias of Orange County; Antonia Walker of Loudoun County; and Teresa Duke and Gail Guirreri-Maslyk of Fauquier County--did just that.
As they worked, gallery visitors had the chance to not only watch the four women paint, but to chat with them as they worked.
"I was concerned about getting the painting finished in the four hours allotted, so I tried to get in the zone and just work," said Iglesias, who used pastels. "But near the end, it was a little harder to keep that concentration. It was great to interact with the visitors, but a bit distracting."
She and the other three artists persevered, producing four very different images in color, feel and perspective.
Tom Neel, himself an artist, said he and his wife came up with the idea of having several artists paint "live" in their studio as a way to let art fanciers, students and others interested in the process of painting watch accomplished artists at work.
"We chose four women instead of four men because we were afraid it might become more of a competitive thing with four male artists working," Neel said.
He said the artists taking part in the event saw themselves more as collaborators than competitors.
I met with the Neels and all but one of the artists at the gallery before the Sept. 29 event. They have varied experience.
Duke, who lives in The Plains and teaches art at Wakefield School there, creates landscapes, equine paintings and other scenes. She has studied and painted in New Mexico with Wolf Kahn.
Guirreri-Maslyk of Rectortown creates bold works in landscapes and equestrian and portrait art in oils. She went to Virginia Tech to become an engineer but switched to art. She has horses of her own, so it makes sense they became frequent subjects.
Walker, who lives in Waterford, is known for her paintings of the light and color of the Virginia countryside, and images of Italy and France.
And Iglesias, who I recently featured as an artist in residence in a museum in Dinan, France, describes her style as impressionist with vibrant colors.
She said it was fascinating for the artists taking part in the event to compare how they each began their paintings and brought different color palettes to the exercise.
She noted that with a fairly simple subject such as the flowers and apples, it was easier to see how the varying styles came through.
But, she added, most of the comparisons occurred only after each artist was done.
"We don't often paint against a deadline as short as four hours," Iglesias noted.
For those interested in seeing the finished works, and taking a beautiful fall drive in the process, the still lifes will be on exhibit at the gallery until Oct. 28, along with other works by the four artists.liveanartfullife.com
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415