“We always knew that we wanted art to be part of the winery experience,” says Nancy Deliso, a member of one of the three families who founded 868 Estate Vineyard. The current “Near and Far” exhibit is the vision of Andrea Cybyk (AndreaCybyk.com), the vineyard’s art director. Her theme ties together the works of four women who know each other well, but who have very different approaches to painting.
Andrea explains, “Ute’s work is almost hyper-near; you feel like you could reach right out and touch the fur of her animals. Kim’s first work on the wall was done on the property. Leanne’s paintings feature exotic places like Tokyo and Budapest. Anne’s paintings, while done locally, have a luminosity that gives them an otherworldly quality.” The exhibit runs through Feb. 23.
Born and raised in Germany, Ute Gil learned traditional folk and silk painting. She left at 22 for Spain to study Spanish and continued her work in pastels and oil. By 1990, she was in the United States moving throughout the Mid-Atlantic, coming to Virginia in 2002. As the kids grew, she had more time to paint, and has devoted herself to it full-time for the last five years.
“I love painting animals, especially their humanness,” she says. All of her works portray happy emotions because that’s the quality in animals that draws them to her. She works often in Western Loudoun County where she can visit the local farms and catch some of her favorite subjects: pigs, foxes and a vast menagerie of birds.
“In the barn owl, you’ll see he is very realistic, but over here in the darkness there is an abstract texture. I love the tension between painting what is realistic and what is abstract,” she explains, adding, “The absence of images engages your imagination.”
She participates in the Western Loudoun Artist Studio Tour, but otherwise is as elusive as her owl, so finding her in a show is rare. Most of her patrons are people she already knows well. “What I love is knowing where my paintings end up and I see the smile on people’s faces. That’s what works for me.”
The first thing that draws you to Kim T. Richards’ work is the brilliant, cerulean blue of her Sonoma, California Mission painting. “The sky in Northern California really is that deep blue all the time,” Kim says. “It’s the one thing I miss about not living there. Every once in awhile the sky here is that color and my husband says, ‘Look, it’s San Francisco Blue outside.’”
Color is what draws Kim to paint; she is a self-described “expressionistic acrylic painter who loves big bold color, lots of flowers, and painting outside.” Though she’s showing landscapes at 868, most of her work focuses on flowers. I’m always drawn to flowers because of the colors and the variation. You can look at a flower and see, yes, that’s a flower. When you really look at it, it’s fascinating how the petals fit together and how all the colors vary and even the spaces in between the petals and the stem. I’m just fascinated by the variations.”
She both sells her artwork and teaches out of Loudoun Street Studios, which she shares with artists Libby Stevens, Carol Buswell and Bethany Winnow. They all plan to teach at Oatlands’ Greenhouse Studio this winter, and Kim will teach at Yellow Barn Studio in the Spring. “I teach beginner acrylics, the basics of painting in general and the specifics of working in acrylic. Acrylic is a great medium to start with because it’s not very intimidating. It’s just a water-based medium and you can jump right in and get a good result. You don’t like something, you just paint over it.”
When her daughter sent her a photo of a local neighborhood in Tokyo, Leanne Fink was “so struck by the candy colors and lights on the walkway from the street lamps that I had to paint it.” The same was true of the street in Budapest that is included in her current show. “While it's still riddled with the ravages of WWII, there is still such a gritty beauty about the place.”
The one word that motivates her is beauty: "I am driven by beauty. I feel that there is so much to inspire me that is surrounding me that my need to express that beauty is what drives me to paint.”
Leanne comes to the canvas after two careers, one in advertising and one in chiropractic patient care. Reunited with what was a childhood passion to paint, she now feels “like I’m burning daylight.” She’s not feeling rushed, exactly, just that there is so much to see and paint that she will produce probably 15 to 20 major works in a year.
Recently returned from a trip to Jordan to visit her daughter, she was captivated by the desert. “The spirit of the desert with its muted tones and stark contrasts were speaking to me and a love of the desert just latched onto me.” She’s already titled her upcoming series, “The Cradle of Life.”
This year’s Loudoun Sketch Club President, you can often find her working on Tuesdays with club members. This month, she also will appear in the Art of the Piedmont Art Auction and Reception on Feb. 21, from which half of the proceeds will benefit Middleburg Montessori School. (Facebook.com/artofthepiedmont/.)
“The work that I do and the art that I make all comes from where I feel I can serve God. It’s through prayer that I discern where I should go next ... and even what subject matter I should pursue.” She feels led to “be a light on a pedestal and to paint the skies,” and to be a beacon of encouragement for other artists. Blessed with the gift of administration as well as marketing and promotional experience, she helps artists turn their passion for art into a business, and was a founder of the Purcellville Art Gallery that opened last summer. Her blog encourages people that “it’s never too late to follow your dream.”
As for why her works seem to glow, some of that quality comes from Anne’s mastery of a painterly style in applying encaustic paint. As her website explains, encaustic paint is “simply beeswax, damar resin (tree sap) and pigment.” Anne makes her own paint, which is kept molten on a heated palette and applied to a wood surface, then re-heated with a torch to fuse the paint into a uniform, enamel-like finish. It’s a process invented by the ancient Greeks whose works haven’t dimmed with age.
Of our cover painting, she says, “I paint seasonally, so I did that in January working with a winter palate. It excited me to see how the light works with snow. I had a friend who had just moved to Front Royal and built a cabin. She sent me a photograph and the scene captured my heart because the footprints in the snow represented companionship in the midst of a cold, blustery day.” You can also catch her work at Art Sweet Art Gallery in Leesburg.