Slow Gallery: Introduction to “Seven Crows on the Edge of Dusk”

Baneberry, or Doll's Eyes from Stephanie Thomas Berry's gallery

Slow Gallery is my new method of revealing finished pieces. It’s a virtual way of slowing the eye so that we can study the components of an image, and perhaps more importantly, a means to tell the story that unfolds within the frame.

When you first look at the painting “Seven Crows on the Edge of Dusk,” what will no doubt catch your eye is this stalk of White Baneberry in fruit. It is placed prominently in the foreground and is a striking combination of black, white, and red. The little berries with their black dots are so indicative of eyes that the plant is also known as Doll’s Eyes.

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Black Mountain Range

Triptych of the Black Mountains by Stephanie Berry, pastel on paper

For days 3, 4, and 5 I decided to do a triptych of the Black Mountain Range, as seen from the Black Mountains Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was my first triptych, and a fun experiment. I will probably do more of these, because they present interesting challenges in consistency and perspective.

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Magic Dust Art

Work in Progress: Massie Gap, Virginia, a pastel painting by Stephanie Berry from a scene along the Appalachian Trail in Grayson Highlands, Virginia

I’ve been painting a lot. Or should I say dusting a lot, since pastels aren’t paint at all, but delicious, pure pigment with a small dash of binder. (That’s what makes them so captivating, by the way: their purity, and also that the light wraps around all those sweet little pigment particles, reflecting this way and that, creating a luminous glow.) 

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Trillium Shaman

Trillium Shaman: a pastel painting by Stephanie Thomas Berry
I love Spring in the Southern Appalachians: the trilliums, the orchids, the mosses, the ferns. I love watching the early, many-hued palette of spring move up the mountainsides: brilliant chartreuse birches, delicate taupe-orange sarvisberry crowned with white flowers, golden sassafras, and of course the delicate magenta maple blossoms. Life awakens in a flourish of laughter.

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On bluets and the characters of flowers

Culinary Decisions: a pastel painting of a wren contemplating a blue blister beetle among bluets, by Stephanie Thomas Berry
So the other day I went down to the river. It was late afternoon, and the sunlight was low and golden. I sat on the bank among a patch of bluets and began to sketch. It is hard for me to impart just how much I love these little blue-touched-with-lavendar flowers.  They seem to me to be the happiest of all the flowers. There’s not a serious one among the whole lot of them.

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Ferns, and advice on painting

Fernalicious! pastel on boardIf you find something you want to paint, don’t bother taking a photo. It’s a waste of time. Instead, settle into a spot and make a nice sketch. You may think that’s the real waste of time, because it definitely takes more time to sketch than even twenty photographs, but there is something about the image you create, the blending of you and your subject upon the paper, the quality of attention a sketch requires. All things that make for better source material than a photograph.

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Carving Fire Pinks and Other Tales of Happiness

Carving a Linoleum Block of Fire Pinks, a NC wildflower
I’m sitting on the porch of my studio on a Saturday afternoon and everything is wonderful. I’ve been carving a linoleum block of Fire Pinks, and I just realized that “pink” refers not to the color of the flower (which is a jubilant red), but to the family to which the flower belongs. Which means that, in her family, Fire Pink is known as Fire. And this realization adds to my happiness, though I can’t exactly determine why. It just does.

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