New exhibit focuses on nature art

DANBURY — The Stokes County Arts Council is opening “Nature Series,” an exhibit of original paintings by Ellen Gamble and Julie Holmes in the Apple Gallery.

A reception is scheduled for May 27 from 5:30-7 pm in gallery, located inside The Arts Place, at 500 Main Street.

Gamble says her first inspiration came from the Abstract Expressionists. In the 1980s, she used geometric forms to set up the initial compositions of her paintings, and then filled the shapes with brushstrokes and rich, textural surfaces. In 2011, she began her “Nature” series where she used these same techniques with compositions of flowers, vines, dead leaves, sticks and pods. “While painting nature, flowers take on abstract shapes, the leaves and pods follow,” she said.

She adds that texture is important: the surfaces are built up over time with many layers of paint. Gamble uses shapes that refer back to earlier compositions. At the same time, new shapes have emerged along with swirling patterns. Repeated shapes have become symbolic and allude to figures while remaining abstract. Her new paintings use this same process. After painting nature and flowers for the past 12 years, she is returning to her original roots as an abstract artist.

Gamble has a diverse educational background from her membership in the Art Student League of New York in 2008 to her time at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1982-1983, studying with artist Doug Sanderson.

She has participated in numerous solo and group shows and exhibits over a span of more than 40 years. Her work has been shown in numerous galleries throughout Winston-Salem, including downtown galleries as well as the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. She has been featured in museums and galleries throughout New York including Palm Gallery in Brooklyn and Mokatov Gallery in New York. Gamble has been a featured artist at Flanders Art Gallery in Raleigh and exhibited in other areas across North Carolina. Gamble’s work has also earned her honors and awards such as the Emerging Artist Grant, a Region Artist Project Grant, and an Arts Education Program, all in the Wake County area.

Holmes explained that oilher favorite medium is oil paint.

‘There’s a lusciousness and buttery feel to oil paint that is unlike any other medium.” She started oil painting many years ago in college in Wisconsin and recently returned to painting in 2012. Holmes completed a four-year program, including a visual thesis in the advanced studies of oil painting, at Studio Incamminati, an art school based in Philadelphia, Previously, Holmes participated in the PopUp Artist Juried Exhibition with Golden Belt Studios in Durham in 2021. She has taught homeless people drawing skills at Incamminati in 2019.

In this Exhibition, called “Nature Series,” Holmes said she is expressing her love and appreciation for the outdoors. Her inspiration comes from simply walking outside her front door and looking. She does this daily with her rescue dog named Chloe, who needs lots of exercise. She and her family live near woods, creeks and pine straw covered paths in an unlikely location: downtown Raleigh. Most of the paintings are from her imagination. Her dream is to create beautiful, original, affordable art for all to see and enjoy.

Holmes emphasized that painting is the best job she has ever had. She worked for years in marketing, then graphic design and building websites. Her hobby was pottery, and she realized that she often painted on the pieces she created. She described herself as a late bloomer: She married in her early 40s, trained and finished a marathon run in her late 40s and attended art school in her late 50s.

“Nature Series” will be on display May 16 to June 30 in the Apple Gallery. The Arts Place is open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday noon to 6 pm For additional information about the exhibit, contact the Stokes County Arts Council at 336-593-8159 or visit www

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