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Impressionist pastel painter Carol Timson Ball captures the Central Coast in its best light at Park Street Gallery 

Though artist Carol Timson Ball originates from the UK, where she received her formal art education, it is the pastoral imagery of the Central Coast that inspires much of her work, currently on display at Park Street Gallery in Paso Robles until Jan. 31.

click to enlarge NATURAL DETAIL Carol Timson Ball's Pretty in Pink depicts a verdant hillside with exceptional attention to floral details. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROL TIMSON BALL
  • Photo Courtesy Of Carol Timson Ball
  • NATURAL DETAIL Carol Timson Ball's Pretty in Pink depicts a verdant hillside with exceptional attention to floral details.

"It's all doable, but it's just what really catches your attention," Timson Ball, who resides in Templeton, said of how she makes artistic choices. "Whether it's flowers, trees, the way the shadow is falling on the grass, lupin in the grass, which way the sun is shining ... art is 80 percent thinking and 20 percent doing."

Timson Ball's style is both impressionistic and highly detailed. Rather than the thick, broad oil paint strokes that some impressionists employ, her use of pastels allows for a more intricate outcome. When looking closely at Timson Ball's work, one can see how many tiny, precise strokes make up her masterpieces.

In a painting like Pretty in Pink, the little pink flowers that Timson Ball depicts stand out not just for their bright color, but also the contrast that exists between these carefully detailed foreground florals and the more blended green grass and foliage in the background. The greenery is indeed pretty in pink, as the title suggests: The flowers are like eye-catching accessories to an otherwise typical springtime hillside. It's these small touches that make the painting pop.

While she tends to stick to pastoral imagery in her paintings, Timson Ball steps out of this box with her renderings of structures, such as Mission San Juan Capistrano.

"I like painting the missions because they are old and they have lovely texture," Timson Ball said. "You've got that lovely architecture with the browns and the arches and the roof, and that lovely tile."

click to enlarge ARCHITECTURALLY INSPIRED San Juan Capistrano plays with light and shadow to capture a California mission in all its architectural glory. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROL TIMSON BALL
  • Photo Courtesy Of Carol Timson Ball
  • ARCHITECTURALLY INSPIRED San Juan Capistrano plays with light and shadow to capture a California mission in all its architectural glory.

In her piece titled San Juan Capistrano, Timson Ball manages to set those beautiful browns of the California mission into a more colorful context, while still making the formidable mission the focus. Above the building, she paints a striking blue sky. Below, the ground is golden yellow. By juxtaposing the brown mission with contrasting warm and cool colors, Timson Ball achieves a surprising and visually interesting painting. The bright colors also help to enhance an otherwise neutral and monochromatic subject.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is also highlighted through Timson Ball's ability to play with shadows. The structure casts a stark shadow on the yellow ground. Pale brown bricks that jut from the front of the building contrast with the dark shadows they create on bricks below. Hidden in the shadowed part of the mission are not just shades of brown, but also yellows, oranges, blues, and purples. What seems like a straightforward painting with a neutral subject is actually brimming with the smallest and most intentional of details and color choices.

Timson Ball said that when she paints en plein air, or on site, she has to be particularly cognizant of how these shadow and light elements are constantly changing as the sun moves in the sky. By spending the time to take in her subject matter or landscape in person, Timson Ball is able to catch those small flecks of color that do exist in seemingly monochromatic shadows, elements that might be missed when painting off a photograph or a memory.

"When you have to work within a certain timeframe, you get what I call 'in the zone.' You're picking up your colors, and you're changing your colors, and you're looking at your pastels," Timson Ball said. "I think that's the important thing: The light and the nature is talking to you, and you're in conversation with nature for that hour or two hours."

Timson Ball said she hopes her exhibit at Park Street Gallery will delight visitors and locals alike.

"A lot of people like to come to Paso, and they want to take a piece of it home, and that's one aspect of it," she said. "But the other is people who live here and know the places [I paint]. ... They put them on their wall because they love being where they live." Δ

Arts Writer Malea Martin is loving where she lives. Send arts story tips to mmartin@newtimesslo.com.

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