Neil Ahrens is inspired by the abstract expressions of the 1950s and ’60s.
Gail Hayton wants to help viewers escape to a place they enjoy.
All three artists — with three wildly varied artistic styles, yet all finding inspiration in northern Michigan — come together in one show at Twisted Fish Gallery. “Three Points of View” is open daily through Sept. 27.
Plus, we’re hosting two additional artist receptions. Betty Bea Washburn will be demonstrating and answering questions Saturday, Sept. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the gallery. Please stop in at any point during the afternoon to find out how Washburn gets such captivating colors and scenes in her work.
And recently, Gail Hayton was at the gallery for a “meet and greet” to chat about painting miniatures, finding inspiration and how many brushes she goes through.
Betty Bea Washburn taught art for 33 years in the Marshall (Mich.) public schools and, when she retired, “hit the ground running” with her own painting. She had worked with oils and acrylics but eventually fell in love with watercolors, which she finds “seductive.” Washburn has become best known for her watercolor paintings of Michigan landscapes, which will be the focus of her part of the Twisted Fish exhibition.
“When I go into the studio, I never know what I’m going to get,” she says. “As long as I float color on top of the water, I get effects.” You have to let the water have its way, she says, to invite the viewer in.
Harbor Springs artist Neil Ahrens also is inspired by northern Michigan, where he spent childhood summers and now lives. He’s created several new large pieces to exhibit in “Three Points of View.”
Ahrens credits a mentor at Michigan State University for his love of large-format painting. “He told me to dig into things you like to create … and make them bigger.” One of the paintings in the show, “Echoes,” pictured top center, started at 1 square inch and is now 3-by-7-foot.
“People are fascinated with my technique,” says Ahrens. “They ask me how and I tell them a better question is ‘Why?’ And it’s because I’m compelled.”
Miniaturist Gail Hayton also wants to beckon the viewer with her tiny (2.5 inches by 3.5 inches) works of art. Hayton takes numerous photographs of Michigan scenes, then returns to her studio, where she creates similar scenes, but not copies, of her reference photos.
Hayton is one of the only artists in Michigan to be exhibiting miniatures. She says a true miniature is highly detailed and one-sixth the size of the subject, which, she laughs, is easier when the subject is a landscape rather than a hummingbird.
She likes that collectors can fit several paintings in a small space or on a bookcase or mantel.
Twisted Fish Gallery is open 7 days a week. If you can’t make it to Elk Rapids, make sure to check the original art in our online store, Fine Art Mart.