Through the month of May, Asheville Gallery of Art will host The Color of Rain, an exhibition of work by Cheryl Keefer. While rain will play a distinctive role in each piece, Keefer says that people are the primary subject for this body of work. “This theme continues to challenge me, and I am intrigued by the infinite number of gestures and moods that people in the rain can portray,” she says. “Walking in the rain is such a common experience and each painting seems to tell a different story, in a different note or tone.”
Keefer’s mother encouraged her artistic leanings from childhood and Keefer went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s degree in special education and art history from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also took graduate painting instruction at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. “I think I have always known I was born to be an artist, but growing up in rural Alabama, it wasn’t until I was in third grade, when my parents purchased a set of World Book Encyclopedias, that I realized painting could be a valid career,” she says. Keefer now maintains a studio in The RAMP Studios in Asheville’s River Arts District.
The artist’s media of choice are watercolor and oil paints. “I enjoy watercolor as much as oil, but oil paint is very versatile and I enjoy using it on outdoor painting excursions because of the weight of the paint,” she says. While most paintings in The Color of Rain are in full color, there are also a couple of grisailles—a monotone painting or value rendering in oil, developed by thinning down paint and wiping off areas to let the white of the canvas show through. “The old Renaissance Masters often started a painting with a grisaille,” says Keefer. “I like the range of values and edges, and the antique, sepia tones I can get with this technique.” Keefer identifies Whistler, Sargent, Corot and Ivanov as some of her inspirations.
“Working on this collection gives me opportunities to reflect on what inspires my heart, to do some experimenting and push myself to say new things and tell new stories,” Keefer says. “I want viewers to hear water splash under their feet, feel renewing raindrops on their faces and smell the sweet fragrance of summer showers. I endeavor to instill a little hopefulness in the rain.”
Asheville Gallery of Art is located at 82 Patton Avenue in Asheville, across from Pritchard Park. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. To learn more, call 828.251.5796, visit AshevilleGallery-of- Art.com or follow the gallery’s Facebook page.