'Prairie Light: Watercolors by Sharon Gray' at CWS
Date: October 19 - January 25, 2016
Times: Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Location: Madsen/Nelson/Elmen Galleries of the CWS Fantle Building, 2121 South Summit Avenue
Ticket Info: Free and open to the public.
Prairie Light: Watercolors by Sharon Gray opened Monday, Oct. 19, and runs through Monday, Jan. 25, in the Madsen/Nelson/Elmen Galleries of the Fantle Building at the Center for Western Studies on Augustana's campus.
A gallery reception was held Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Sharon Gray’s foray into painting began when she serendipitously came across a close-out sale of art supplies at the Augustana bookstore. With paints, brushes, and watercolor paper marked down to 25 cents an item and all proceeds going to the Banquet, she says, “it was a win-win."
Only a few colors of watercolor paint tubes remained at the sale, forcing the new artist to learn how to mix her own colors.
But Gray's $150 purchase that day gave her the opportunity to put on paper what she had experienced as a child, traveling with her father as he filmed South Dakota Department of Tourism movies in the 1960s. From those trips, she has carried with her the memory of the stunning, wide expanses of the South Dakota landscape.
This love of the land allows Gray to create what her oldest son calls "portraits of places." She attempts to capture color and light, and how they work upon the landscape, in her paintings. The dense technique she uses gives her work a photographic quality. But Gray say’s it’s “more than just capturing what a place looks like; I want to capture what it feels like.”
Occasionally, she has the opportunity to paint en plein aire. However, with seven children, a two-hour commute, and a full-time job, she has to budget her time wisely. Carrying a camera almost everywhere she goes allows her to document unique scenes as she comes across them for painting later. She often photographs the same scene many times to catch different lighting effects.
The artist takes one to two days to complete a work, and she admits, “if it takes me longer, it’s usually not going to be a very good painting!”
A familiar face to the Center for Western Studies, Gray has participated in the Artists of the Plains Art Show & Sale and had pieces chosen for both the Interpretations of Wounded Knee 1973 and 1890 and the South Dakota 2014: Artists Respond to the State’s 125th Anniversary gallery exhibits. Gray is an instructional technologist at Augustana University, where she is in charge of faculty development in the area of instructional and information technology.
The exhibit is located in the Madsen/Nelson/Elmen Galleries of the Fantle Building at the Center for Western Studies, 2121 South Summit Ave. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free.