The scalloped edges and puffy petals of the bearded iris can bloom in a multitude of colors, but artist René Lynch especially appreciates the flower’s captivating structure. For the past 11 years, she has used her brush and watercolors to capture the rounded edges of her favorite flower, and many others like her.
On a trip to Florence, she spent hours photographing irises in a particular garden and still uses those photographs as inspiration today.
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“I’ve always been drawn to really nice colors,” says Lynch. “I have always been very fond of flowers. I love being outside and being part of this world.
Lynch will showcase her many floral paintings at LeMoyne Art’s 22nd Annual Parks Chain Art Festival on April 23-24. She is one of 150 selected artists who will exhibit alongside reconstructions of local heritage, family activities and shows.
While attendance at last year’s festival was reduced due to COVID-19 precautions, this year’s event is expected to attract much larger crowds. Lynch is eager to share her abstract paintings and connect with art enthusiasts.
“Happy to be out”
Last year, she was able to sell some of her favorite works – a pair of white poppies with bright yellow-like yellow centers.
“I can’t wait to get out and see people,” Lynch said. “It’s such a wonderful weekend to shop for beautiful art and support our local artists.”
Lynch’s home features an assortment of local and international artwork that she has collected over the years. Among his favorite works are the Quincy painter Bill McKeown, the watercolorist Susan Allen and the late painter Kathleen Carter.
It was Carter who inspired Lynch to expand beyond his floral and botanical watercolors and experiment with making more abstract work in oil and cold wax. Unlike watercolors, which dry quickly and are easier to control, Lynch says oils presented a new challenge.
“It’s like diving into the bottom of a pool and not knowing how to swim,” says Lynch. “I had no experience with materials. Oils are much more complicated to work with.
Lynch’s experience in art began with exposure to her mother’s landscape and portrait paintings, as well as collage and mixed media. She says her mother was a major influence in her own decision to go back to art school.
Twenty-three years ago, she quit her job at a tech company and went on to study interior design at Florida State University. Soon after, she moved with her husband to Kauai, Hawaii for a year and immersed herself in the lush, tropical landscape. Her temporary studio occupied a corner of their living room, but she also took the time to work outside, surrounded by her favorite subject: fauna and flora.
After moving back to Tallahassee, Lynch had the chance to design her own spacious studio where she continues to paint today. One of the watercolorists she most admires is Joseph Raffael, an American contemporary realist painter who used large-scale canvases to show nature in all its eye-catching vividness.
“His work will blow you away with the exceptional detail,” says Lynch. “When you look at it up close you can’t believe that when you pull back it’s a rose or a dahlia or a koi fish. They’re so abstract and I’d like to go more towards that way of working in my watercolors I think oil work is going to help me do that.
Go with the flow
Using art and design principles from her interior design background, Lynch begins with a compositional idea. When using watercolors, her creative process often begins with a photograph of a flower. She looks for reference photos that have high contrast, shadows, and color.
Lynch will then make a thumbnail sketch before deciding whether to scan or enlarge the sketch to transfer to paper. Her oil process is much freer as she decides which direction she will end up going for her less predictable abstract paintings. She says one of her strengths as an artist is having the ability to let go, both in the creative process and beyond.
“It’s in the process that I derive the most joy,” says Lynch. “I can put my heart and soul into something, but when it’s done, I’m not emotionally attached to it anymore. I find I can really let my work out into the world and stop judging it and m worry about it.
One of the biggest lessons she learned in her decades dedicated to art was to go with the flow rather than force a painting to work. When all else fails, she’ll simply paint a room with gesso — a blank-like art medium — and start over.
“Art keeps my sanity,” Lynch says. “As human beings, we all feel the need to create something, and art is a great place to express ourselves. I can make a big mess and feel better when I’ve finished or finished a piece I struggled with. I always feel better after being in the studio.
If you are going to
What: LeMoyne Arts Parks Chain Art Festival
When: April 23-24
Or: Park Avenue chain of parks
Contact: For more information visit chainofparks.com
Amanda Sieradzki is a feature writer for the Council for Culture and the Arts. COCA is the Capital Region’s umbrella agency for arts and culture (www.tallahasseearts.org).
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