Arts Galleries

Water is Life on Display at Spotlight Gallery

Azores Dream. Elise Okrend, artist

Artist Elise Okrend presents Water is Life, an exhibit of soft pastel paintings on display at The Spotlight Gallery at Wedge Studios from Friday, December 1, through Saturday, December 30. Exhibit hours are 12–4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The body of work focuses on the healing and reflective nature of water.

“As a sensitive, empathetic person, I pick up on the emotions of those around me and want to have a connection with them,” says Okrend. “My work is an extension of that process.”

Okrend began creating water reflection paintings as a continuation of her atmospheric soft pastel work. In all of her paintings, the use of soft pastels and sanded paper allows her to create ethereal blends of color representing clouds and mist. In her current series, Okrend experiments with the blended pastels to create layers, texture and dimension. A three-dimensional feel in some of the paintings draws the viewer inward. Each painting blends color and movement and invites the observer to step back and reflect on the work and on themselves.

“I offer my art as a way for my viewers to tap into their emotional state and to feel a sense of peace and well-being,” says Okrend.

Her process typically begins with photos taken on hikes and travels, during which she often stops at streams, lakes and rivers to watch the flow of water and the reflections created by surrounding trees and foliage. Her paintings are usually a combination of two or three different views, combining elements from each to get the best composition.

“The choices I make are both conscious and intuitive,” says Okrend. “I want my art to slow people down, help them to pause, breathe and reflect.”

Having grown up in the fast-paced environment of New York City and navigated a successful career in design and print production, Okrend relocated to Asheville due to her passion for painting mountain landscapes. Her art has been selected for many juried shows, and is part of the permanent collection of several major medical facilities and private collectors.

“We were immediately drawn to Elise’s work because of its ethereal nature and incredible use of color,” says Asheville resident Dorothy Shippen. “The work is unique, approachable and inspirational. We commissioned a piece for our new home and it is absolutely stunning.”

Wedge Studios is located at 129 Roberts Street, in Asheville. Learn more at

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