It’s very clear artists enjoy a challenge. At least that’s the message that came across in conversations with three of the artists who will participate in the Visual Eight Art Exhibition that opens with a reception on Friday, Jan. 4, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Road.
The works of eight artists with a connection to Wilton will be shown: Sandra Bacher, Joseph Barber (deceased, represented by his niece, Linda Morgan), Lynda Carroll, Carole Ann Mills, Judith Schomer, John “Randy” Tate, Kathleen Wrampe and Marian Wulffleff.
Art has been a lifetime avocation for Wulffleff, who is a retired sixth grade teacher. Her father was a commercial artist and she’s always been drawn to art, she told The Bulletin.
With more time available, she’s “trying to do different things,” she said. Wanting to show her range of talent, Wulffleff is showing several works. One is a realistic oil painting that is a traditional landscape, but others are departures.
Those departures include a collage of gold leaf and paper and an encaustic painting.
“I’ve always wanted to try encaustic,” she said of the technique that involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. “The pigments are from the south of France,” she said. “As the wax hardens you’re adding pigment. It’s an interesting medium.”
The gold leaf collage is of a sycamore tree at her home. She was inspired by Gustav Klimt whose Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is commonly known as The Lady in Gold.
“I thought it would be fun to put gold leaf into something,” she said, so she chose a 200-year-old tree behind her house as her subject.
Wulffleff took a bit of a break from art while she worked on her antique house in the mid-2000s. “I have to be doing something creative or it’s not a good time,” she said. “I think most artists feel that way.”
Lynda Carroll is also a former teacher, having just retired from Greenwich High School where she taught art and photography for more than 20 years.
“The work I’m doing lately is on how we perceive information,” she said, adding that her daughter is a perceptual psychologist. “We talk about how people perceive things,” she said, whether they are close or far away or in space.
One of her black-and-white images can be seen as a cluster of buildings at night, but when looked at another way, the viewer appears to be looking at “moons” through a gate.
“It’s about how does our brain function to decipher the information we have that we see,” she said. “Oftentimes when we see a visual artwork — say a landscape — when we see things we’re not stationary. We move around.
Hence, sometimes when she draws, she moves around, draws some more, and moves around again. “It’s part science, part art.”
She had been working with pencil and graphite, but her newer works are in color.
“I start with a drawing because I love the drawing aspect of it,” she said. “As you assess, you add complexity. Color is another layer of complexity on top of it. “I’m going to explore the black and white a while until I sort out the light and dark shadows.
“I think a lot of times people get distracted by the color,” she said, adding none of her color drawings are in the library show.
This work is a departure for Carroll who is most known for her pictures of clouds.
“I spent years doing weather until I decided I’m not going to do it anymore,” she said. “I was really successful with them and people related to them.” However, she added, “I needed to go do something else and challenge myself.”
A Wilton resident for 30 years, Carroll said she’s “grateful for the library. It’s such a wonderful resource for the town. I’m delighted they are as persistent as they are that the arts get celebrated in the community. They are doing a fabulous thing for the town.”
John “Randy” Tate has dabbled in all aspects of art, but he had never been a painter. Until recently. Tate, who spends his summers in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, took a photo of a loon.
“I thought it would make a great painting,” so he “gave it a shot. … It was the first painting I’d done in 20 years.” While pursuing an art degree in college he’d taken painting courses, but his concentration was printmaking, and he’ll have an example of that in the show as well.
“I showed the painting to my friends and they said, ‘why aren’t you painting?’ It was winter and I didn’t have a lot going on, so I figured I would try to paint,” Tate said.
While traveling around this summer, he took his work with him, selling two dozen pieces. “I got inspired to keep doing it,” he said.
Some of the work in the library show will be giclée prints of his oil paintings, his preferred medium, although a painting he’s finishing up now is done in acrylics.
A workshop he enrolled in required three plein air pieces to be completed in one week — impossible to do in oil. “I chose to do watercolor,” he said. “I hadn’t painted in watercolor in 40 years! That was a real challenge.”
Reteaching himself how to paint with watercolors, he said, “I don’t do it the way a lot of people do it. I do it like Rembrandt, using gum arabic so it behaves more like oil.”
Tate, who grew up in Wilton, focuses on the wildlife and scenery he encounters in the Adirondacks. “I would call it contemporary realism,” he said of his style. “It’s got a contemporary feel, especially colorwise.”
His latest piece is a close-up of a beaver pond called Beaver Pond Reflections 1, which he said looks abstract at times, realistic at others.
“This newest one is where my head is going,” he said. “I got to playing with reflections over the course of my paintings. … Almost everything has a lot of reflective quality,” — sky, trees, logs.
“It’s a fun kind of game you can play. As an artist it’s very challenging.”
All three artists will be at the reception on Jan. 4, which is free and open to the community. The Bulletin is the media sponsor for Visual Eight. Information: wiltonlibrary.org or 203-762-6334.