Phyllis Shafer’s “Winter Light” (oil on panel, 12 x 16 inches)
Landscape painter Phyllis Shafer has long called South Lake Tahoe home, making the vast Carson Valley and desert beyond regular areas of exploration. Additionally, she has trained her brush on Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Shafer paints lyrical, graceful work, replete with heightened patterns and movement of the views she captures. The desert, says Shafter, “has the rhythms I’m looking for,” as well as the space and the solitude to absorb the landscape, to become immersed in it. “ÒI love the uninterrupted openness,” she says. “And, there’s also something surreal and strange about the desert.” Shafter’s saturated color and fluid lines relay the otherworldliness of the place, and bring to life what others may see as an empty wasteland. Her work will be the subject of two upcoming shows: at the Nevada Museum of Art in January 2014, and at Stremmel Gallery in Reno in October 2013.
Shafer points out that in Arizona, it is the cacti that catch her attention, particularly the saguaro. In her paintings of them, they seem like characters, animated and in conversation with the surrounding flora, sky, and hills. In Nevada, it’s the ruggedness and low-lying plant life that she focuses on. Her big, whirling skies further add to the playfulness of the scenes. “For me, these paintings are a dance between what I see in nature and the process of translating it.” It is a process Shafer enjoys taking her time with: “I love becoming intimately familiar with the nature I paint,” she states, by way of explaining her penchant for capturing the views that immediately surround her. The landscape takes on an allegorical life; “it’s a symbol of our journey through life, a self-reflection,” she explains. ÒItÕs almost literary to me, symbolizing something internal.”The desert as a subject then becomes not just about seeing, but about revealing what is not immediately evident, the richness in an environment that doesn’t readily give up its secrets, but where stories of life, hard fought and often hidden in the vastness, abound. “I love to peel away the layers of landscape,” says Shafter. “And with the Nevada desert, I feel I’ve just begun to scratch the surface.”Blog content courtesy Art Ltd. magazine
Tags: Art Ltd., Contemporary Art, Modern Art, Phyllis Shafer, Stremmel Gallery