Edmonds Art Studio Tour: No substitute for original work | Art&Appetite

By James Spangler | Sep 09, 2016
Courtesy of: Tom Nunn Jonlee Nunn’s “Red Dress” series can be seen on the Edmonds Art Studio Tour.

Maybe it's obvious to you, and maybe it isn't. What exactly is an art studio tour? Here in Edmonds for the 11th year, local artists will briefly open their studios for a glimpse of what they’re up to.

Much of their finished work is available to purchase, and many artists will have work in progress to view as well. All are welcome.

Perhaps you're more familiar with the Edmonds garden tour. Well, it's sort of like that, only with art. Imagine 37 of Edmonds’ best artists displaying recent work at 19 studios and two galleries in the area and you'll begin to get the idea.

There's really no substitute for original art.

Acquiring something on the studio tour enables you to support the local art community and have a personal connection with the artist. It’s a pretty cool deal. If you haven't already discovered this on your own, the studio tour will allow you to see just how extraordinary many of our local artists are.

Gracing the cover of this year’s studio tour brochure is “Red Attitude” from Jonlee Nunn’s “Red Dress” series.

As a little girl, Jonlee thumbed through a magazine and discovered an image of some forgotten Hollywood femme fatale. She grabbed a pencil and a sheet of paper and began to draw it. When finished, she was astonished and pleased to discover that she had captured its likeness.

Thus began a lifetime of art appreciation. Beginning with watercolor and pen and ink, she pursued her love of art, taking evening classes at the University of Washington, in addition to her high school studies.

She acquired a degree in commercial art in college and worked professionally in technical drawing and design. She was able to retire early, but has never lost the creative bug.

Acrylic is her medium of choice today.

She's never stopped learning – artist workshops still attract her interest. She mentioned California artist and teacher Bob Burridge in particular as influencing her work.

“Bob moves paint around thick, fast and loose, like a dance,” she said. “Yet out pops a painting that drops your jaw. His teaching is direct and colorful. It really wakes me up.”

When Nunn paints a series, she tends to incorporate several concepts that interest her. Aside from line and form, her most recent series provide evidence of her love of bold color, fashion and the indomitable female spirit.

One of her greatest attributes as an artist is that she has an innate understanding of what makes a great composition.

Although much more abstract, to me, there is something in the attitude or perspective of her “Red Dress” series that is reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec – something in the subject matter and posture that is evocative of Mary Cassatt.

Part of what makes this series so remarkable is what Nunn has chosen to leave out. It’s a surprisingly painstaking part of the process. Her work is figurative, but also – quite intentionally – merely a gesture.

At a recent gallery showing, Nunn happened to overhear a woman’s observations of “Red Waiting.” Not realizing that the artist was standing nearby, she began to describe what it was she found so compelling about it.

“This piece really draws me in,” she said. “I feel that the woman has a certain serenity to her.”

It may have been the muted background, or it may have been the posture of the red woman, but what Nunn really witnessed was the viewer putting herself in the work. By not providing too much detail, or making the painting too suggestive, the viewer was allowed to draw her own conclusions – to project herself into the painting.

That was a very rewarding moment for Nunn.

The Edmonds art studio tour will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18. A great interactive map is available on their website, or pick up their brochure (with map) at selected shops and galleries in Edmonds.

For more information, go to Edmondsartstudiotour.com.

James Spangler is the owner of Spangler Book Exchange in Edmonds and an aficionado of all things art and appetite. Do you know of a Snohomish County restaurant, art gallery or theatrical show worthy of a review? Call him at 206-795-0128 or email him at jamessspangler@gmail.com.


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