Artist of the Month: Sydney Hall

Still-Life and Sunlight (acrylic, 20×20) by Sydney Hall was a Still Life finalist in the 24th Annual Art Competition. Hall is our August 2008 Artist of the Month.

Residence: Tappahannock, Virginia


Start in art: My mother was an avid quilter and gardener. Often accompanying her to quilting bees, I was introduced to the beauty of the bold geometric shapes and bright colors woven into quilts. Lying in the family garden, I would watch sunlight bouncing off fruits and glowing brilliantly through the leaves of sunflowers, chard and lacy carrot tops.

Later on I studied art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School, Visual Arts Center of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and Northern Virginia Community College and in color workshops with Camille Przewodek. I’ve been a full-time artist for about 10 years now.

About this painting: Still-Life and Sunlight was inspired by the brilliance and luminosity of sunlight as opposed to the indirect and quite cool north light. It took about two half-days of painting. My favorite part of it was the anticipation of getting started, waiting to see how the hot and cool tones were going to play off each other.

Her process: Whether I work from photographs, from a study or from life, I always begin with a drawing. The drawing process gives me time to consider the light effects and color, which I am extremely interested in. It enables me to set the stage. You are the producer and director of your own play each time you open your paint box.

As for my color palette, I generally use some combination of about 12 colors: titanium white, cadmium lemon pale, cadmium yellow medium, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow deep, napthol red light, cadmium red light, quinacridone red, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, pthalo blue and chromium oxide green. If I’m out in the field, I’ll often work with a limited palette of white and two each of yellow, blue and red.

Just for fun: Having my artwork chosen to commemorate anniversaries, birthdays or weddings is definitely part of the joy of being an artist. The delivery process can be quite amusing. Writing e-mails that include secret instructions such as “I can meet you at X time, on X day, in X parking lot” make me laugh. It’s not beyond me to wear dark purple sunglasses when I drop off the goods.

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