Second Story Gallery is presenting an artist who has built a show around a floral theme in honor of the Camas Plant Fair returning to 4th Avenue in May. The Patio, Plant and Garden Fair will be filling the street with flower vendors on May 10, the day before Mother’s Day, under the sponsorship of the Downtown Camas Association.
“I was excited to create a new body of work for this specific theme,” said Hilarie Couture, who will open her art show “Les Femmes et Les Fleurs,” with a free reception Friday, May 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Gallery. “This is a collection of work that exemplifies my own evolution as a painter."
“I see women and children as life's bouquets and my goal is to express them and their stories in a beautiful and romantic way,” said Couture. “These are paintings from life that either I have staged or that I just had to capture, when and how I saw it.” Couture’s soft style shows signs of the pastels she loves.
Her discovery of quickly working in oils, finishing a painting in a few hours, “helps me to portray the uniqueness in people and the essence of time.” It is a method called “alla prima” or directly applying one layer to another while the canvas is wet. “My first real alla prima painting experience was painting women in gardens outside in real time, “ said Couture. “It was so amazing to try to capture the light moving through the day, as well as the persona of the model . . . Some of the work for this show was painted this way,” she added.
“The fluidity offers the freedom to express the emotion and the inner being of the sitter at that very place in time,” she explained. ”I am concerned with putting down in a moment the essence of the sitters while they pose for me, no matter what they , or I, are feeling.” She said she was inspired by the beautiful gardens of the Northwest and the good fortune of arriving at the Second Story Gallery for the month of the Garden Fair.
Her talent for figurative drawing and love of art took her to school for fashion design but Couture said she grew frustrated when her core classes had nothing to do with art. She left school to draw portraits on the streets around the country and, she remembers, with virtually no formal art training she was able to survive for awhile by selling portraits.
Life took over, according to the Vancouver resident, and and she didn't do anything artistic for over 30 years. But then she returned to school in 2010, earning a degree in historic preservation which opened doors to renewed artistic pursuits such as mural painting. She currently teaches workshops and shows her work around the region.
Couture hopes visitors to her show will take time to stop, look and even smell the fragrance of the roses. The show continues through May 31, upstairs in the Library.
Hilarie Couture reception Friday, May 2
live music by T Walker Anderson