provided to Santiva Chronicle
Local artists Renée Chastant and Betsy Conrad are exhibiting artwork throughout May on the Sanibel Community House website at www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net. The public is invited to view their colorful display 24 hours a day.
Despite the temporary closure of the Community House, the organization has launched an innovative “virtual” art exhibit featuring work by two members of the Sanibel Captiva Art League. Instead of hanging paintings in the entry lobby as is usually the case, Conrad and Chastant are featuring their art on the Community House website.
Betsy Conrad moved to Florida in 2015 from Tucson, Arizona. Her first brush with art occurred 15 years ago after she retired. Thrilled by watercolor and its unique challenges, Conrad took numerous classes throughout the US to enhance her knowledge. Working primarily in watercolor, she also enjoys acrylic and collage.
“Experimentation is what fuels my artistic world,” explains Conrad. “I have recently discovered the technique of painting watercolors with a palette knife and lots of water to move the paint around on the paper. The outcome can be unpredictable, but it’s always very exciting.”
Viewers can see numerous examples of Conrad’s experimentation by viewing the virtual tour.
Renée Chastant arrived on the local scene five years ago. After 40 years in Colorado and Arizona, she was enchanted with the completely different flora and fauna of Southwest Florida, especially the birds. Most of Chastant’s art involves organic subjects such as plants and animals, rather than figures or urban landscapes. She is known for her exuberant application of bright pigments.
“Nature is what inspires me,” says Chastant, “and I love to translate what I see into vibrant watercolor pieces.”
Most of Chastant’s paintings are characterized by strong, saturated hues. Her painting style varies from fairly representational depictions to bold, colorful renditions. “Color animates my spirit, and color is what excites me most in all of my varied painting subjects,” she says.