Through the eyes of a child, everything on the beach is a treasure. Polished rocks and sea glass, common mussel shells and sand dollars, even a broken fishing lure or a smooth piece of driftwood. The wonder and beauty is real and present as each tumbles from sand covered fingers into pails labeled “Do Not Throw Away! Ever!”
And then we grow up…
Yet for those that truly love the ocean – those that always have sand in their shoes, that never take the beach chair out of the trunk – they are still collecting treasures. They line window sills and coffee tables, fill glass jars and bowls and continue to be the holders of seaside beauty and memories. Alex Dunwoodie is one of these people.
“Beauty is to be found in the small things, the cast-offs, the ‘ordinary,’ and we pick these things up — the bone-colored shells on the beach that stand out against the rocks,” says Dunwoodie. “We put them in our pockets and find a place for them on our shelves and in our lives. They take on a new significance in our domestic spaces, and a life of their own. Some even become talismans; more than just decorations, but objects we pick up now and again to appreciate a special quality about them.”
Alex continues to see the ordinary with the awe and wonder of a child. Not only does she keep these treasures for herself, she shares them with us through her work. “For years I’ve been doing small works of my favorite subjects – fishing lures and shells – but presently I’m devoting a series specifically to the small shells and tiny bric-a-brac that has accumulated in my space over the years.” Dunwoodie had a bit of a revelation as to why she loves these things so much and continues to be devoted to them. “By painting these seemingly insignificant objects in the language of realism, and giving them the great deal of time and intense study that the process requires, I’m honoring them,” Alex shares. “I am showing them my respect and gratitude. Recording them in oils allows me to scrutinize, memorize and consider these objects I love.” In her work, their colors, textures, forms, stories and histories appear. “I elevate them; sometimes giving them a hint of life, or a new life, within the space of the frame.”
The series is called “Reverence of Ordinary Things.” They are smaller than her typical, already small works. “I’ve just started some that are 4 x 4”,” says Alex. Two pieces from Alex’s “Reverence of Ordinary Things” are part of our present Holiday Show at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture, which will run until the end of December. If you are in the Kennebunks for the holidays, please stop in and check our own wonderful collection of Alex Dunwoodie’s work. You can also see more of Dunwoodie’s work on her Artist Page.
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