Reach for the sky: Painters group exhibits work at Exum Gallery

photo "Magic Hour," by Janice Kennedy
photo "Dark Cloud Rising," by Carol Hobbs
photo "Untitled," by Evelyn Marie Williams
photo "Splendor Above the Sea Bright," by Evelyn Marie Williams

If you go* What: Skyworks exhibit.* Where: The Exum Gallery, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 305 W. Seventh St.* Hours: 8:30 a.m-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; opening reception 5-7 p.m. Friday.* Admission: Free* Information: 266-8195

When it comes to seeking inspiration for works of art, a group of local artists need only to look toward the heavens.

The five members of the North Georgia Skypainters Society mostly focus their art on the "ethereal, ever-changing majesty of the sky," says "Skypainter" Evelyn Marie Williams, of Ringgold, Ga., who is also a member of the Tennessee Watercolor Society.

The group was formed in 2010 by artist Carol Hobbs, who was commissioned to create large paintings depicting the sky for an art gallery in an area church. Hobbs recruited a group of artistic peers to help with the project, which soon morphed into an alliance, Williams says.

The group's goal is to encourage others to look up more often and enjoy the beauty above, she says.

"I love being a part of this unique and active group. We get along very well and work together as a team with common interests, goals and challenges," Williams says. "Having a group to share with, laugh with, and learn from is an amazing experience. We are not afraid to share our thoughts, nor to agree or disagree on specific suggestions which may come up from time to time. For me, it is one of the best art experiences I have ever had."

About 25 works representing the artists will be displayed in the upcoming exhibit at Exum Gallery, and the work of the artists is as diverse as their styles, Williams says. She explains that her style is "exploring and creating unusual and non-traditional skies."

"Skies are one of the most complex subjects for me to paint due to the nature of clouds," she says. "Clouds are not like most subjects and objects which I paint. There are no hard edges and tangible surfaces."

Other Skypainters use different techniques, she says.

"Sandra Babb paints in plein air with oil paint and. because the sun light changes so quickly, it forces her to paint fast," Williams explains. "She paints in more of a traditional style with thick lushes of paint blended beautifully together."

Hobbs loves color and sharp contrast in her acrylic sky pieces, Williams says. "Many of her paintings are local scenes and beautiful blue skies with fantastic contrasting and dramatic clouds."

Sherry Hullender is an oil painter who uses thin layers of oil in layers and blends muted colors that compliment one another, Williams says.

Janice Kennedy paints with acrylic and the results "are dreamy and colorful with large spans of sky in view that makes you feel like you are in Texas," Williams says. "She loves purple and you will find this blended in most all of her sky paintings somewhere."

Kennedy says that, while she enjoys creating works of art focused on the sky, she also paints other subjects.

"I think that because I discovered the joy of painting only after an analytical career (I have a mathematical background), that I've become a bit manic in discovering the different styles of art," Kennedy says.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at [email protected] or 423-757-6396.