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"Land and Luminance" Exhibit Opens in Tolland

The Arts of Tolland exhibit features landscape pastels by award-winning Stafford Springs artist Elizabeth Rhoades

A plein air painter, Elizabeth Rhoades is most drawn to landscapes.

"You can't really see what happens with light when you are working from a photograph. A camera knocks out all the dark values so that you don't see the nuance of color, and so your work becomes an invention rather than an experience," Rhoades said recently. "Working on location gives you an emotional connection to your motif and I want people to share that experience through my eyes."

Rhoades shares her experiences at her most recent exhibit at the Arts of Tolland center on the town green, which opened Sept. 3.

The Stafford Springs resident has put together a collection of pastels featuring captivating landscapes entitled Land and Luminance in which about 65 percent of her pieces were don on location a factor she says is very important when it comes to painting.  

While the exhibit features a few southwestern scenes, by and large her landscapes are local scenes from Stafford, Ellington, Enfield, and Somers.

Not all scenes lend themselves to setting up an outdoor studio and in those cases Rhoades said she has often made quick sketches taking multiple notes.

One such example is Awakening Marsh, a striking composition that features a marshy water scene Rhoades found in Stafford off a dirt road.

"My GPS took me to a swamp that caught my eye. It was early spring and there was a little blush of color. The foliage was just starting to pop out," she said.

The winter scene A Cold Day's End features a farm on Furnace Avenue, also in Stafford, which Rhoades painted from a quick study she did on location. In this scene, the sun was quickly setting, but she took quick notes on the temperatures of colors and where she saw reflected pinks and violets.

"You have to understand where light is coming from and where it's going," she explained at the opening.

"Sometimes I will take a photo of the essence of a place and then create a composition that has many of the same elements," she said.

An art teacher for over 32 years, the last 30 years in the Enfield Public School system, Rhoades holds art degrees from SCSU and Wesleyan University as well as a sixth level degree in art education.

Her work has been exhibited in national juried shows in California, Cape Cod, New York, and New Mexico and she is a member of several art societies including The Connecticut Pastel Society and the Pastel Society of America.

"I'm a romantic and I express that in my work," said Rhoades. "I enjoy my solitude and being able to place the viewer in that calm."

An opening reception for Rhoades exhibit will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Arts of Tolland from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Gallery viewing hours are Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. on Sept. 10, 17, and 24.

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