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Q & A With Artist Beverly Squire

Artist Beverly Squire headlines a gallery show opening at the Colonade Art Gallery on Saturday. She recently sat down with Patch to talk about art and life.

Arcadia artist Beverly Squire has won numerous awards and exhibits her paintings at venues and galleries across Southern California. Her signature dreamy landscapes are painted in the Impressionism style, mostly using water color or oil.

Colonade Art Gallery in Pasadena will exhibit Squire's paintings in the show "Fall Flower Show: From A-Z, Asters to Zinnias," which opens Saturday, Oct. 6 and ends Sunday, Oct. 28.

Squire recently took the time to dish with Patch about her relationship with color, how she found her Craftsman-style Arcadia home and why she'd love to spend the day with artist Mary Cassatt.

Patch: You're art has an impressionist leaning. Who, or what, inspired you to follow this route with your painting?

Beverly Squire: I began to follow the French Impressionists and their work after seeing an exhibit at Los Angeles County Museum of Art many years ago. Since that time, I have studied their work and researched their artistic and personal lives. I am inspired by their use of color in portraying the luminous quality of light in the landscape. The ability to achieve this is very illusive and can have a very powerful effect on our senses. When Monet painted his now famous, "Impression Sunrise", he showed us a new way of seeing. He painted his impression of the scene. When I paint I strive to do just that. My hope is to make the viewer feel that she/he is at that place, at that particular time. My hope is for the viewer to feel as if they could just walk into the painting.

Every Friday, you paint with the Southern California Plein Air Painters. How much do they factor into your work or the projects you will present at the Colonade gallery?

*Note: En Plein Air is a French term meaning "artists who paint outdoors."*

I have been painting out with the plein air group for several years. We usually have a critique at the end of a painting session. These are very helpful, and because we have become friends over the years and respect the style and effort of each individual artist the critique has become a helpful tool. We do not always agree but we try to make suggestions in a positive manner. The paintings I'm now exhibiting at the Colonnade Gallery are based on the flower/still life theme and therefore plein air painting does really factor into it. However, I would say that painting outside in real light has influenced my approach in the use of color.

Speaking of color, what is your relationship to color?

Relationship to color? I used to paint some drab, colorless paintings. After taking a class at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design, which was devoted to the study of color, I became entranced with color for its own sake and for the relationships of playing cool colors against warm colors, light against dark, neutral against intense, etc. That class really opened up my eyes and I have never looked at color in the same way since. I think learning to use color in painting is a lifelong struggle and joy, and I'm not sure we humble artists can ever truly master the art of color.

You live in a house built in 1922 and call yourself an avid collector of antiques. What is your favorite piece you own and why? What attracts you to old houses?

My favorite antique piece, which was given to me by dear elderly mother-in-law, is an antique glass cabinet which contains many wonderful pieces of antique glass, porcelain, small French clocks, and porcelain dolls which she lovingly collected and placed in the cabinet during her lifetime. It is a true  treasure and one that I will pass down to my daughter.

One day I drove by a charming, 1920's era home and I fell in love with it. A few days later I decided to take another look and, what luck, there in the yard was a "For Sale" sign. I knew I had to have the house and convinced my husband it was fate. That wasn't difficult because we both admire classic architecture along with the love and craftsmanship of older homes. A note here about our home: Last year, the man whose father built the house visited us. This was totally unexpected, and after inviting him in he mentioned to us that," today was his 85th birthday". He told us how his father built the house and that he had been born in the room we were standing in!

You say you became interested in art as a small child. What sparked this?

I grew up in a large family (five siblings) and my interest in art may have started out as an escape of sorts from the commotion of every day life. Although my brothers and sisters and I were very close, art and drawing gave something back to me that was very personal. I remember getting a new box of crayons and thinking it was the most beautiful gift I had ever received.

What is your favor medium to work in? Oil? Watercolor?

My first experience with painting was in high school and I used watercolor from that time on until about 10 years ago when I took an oil painting class. After that I used oil almost exclusively. I love both and each have their own idiosyncrasies. I like watercolor for its spontaneity and the quality of freshness it exudes. I like oil for the ability it affords one to capture the feeling of light and depth. These qualities are almost impossible to capture with any other medium.

Who is your favorite artist, and why?

Favorite artist--that's a tough one. I love the color of Monet, the composition of Cezanne, the emotion of Van Gogh's paintings, the skill of Mary Cassatt, and the quietude of Andrew Wyeth. Also I must include Winslow Homer for his stunning watercolors.

If you could hang out with a famous figure, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I think Mary Cassatt would be at the top of the list. At a time when there were so few women artists of fame (and especially American women artists) she traveled to Europe and became a friend and protege' of Edgar Degas and many of the French Impressionists. It must have taken a great deal of courage to strike out on her own during that time in history. She never married and never had children. That shows how she truly devoted her life to art.

See Beverly Squire's work in the exhibit, "Fall Flower Show: From A-Z, Asters to Zinnias" at Colonade Art Gallery in Pasadena.

  • Opens Oct. 6. 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, through Oct. 28
  • Colonnade Art Gallery and Studio, 2421 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
  • FREE
  • For more information, call 626-239-3153 or visit the gallery's Web site.
  • Opening reception for "Fall Flower Show" will be from 5:3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 6.

Visit Squire's Web site for more information on her and her work.

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