- Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 July 2013 11:14
- Published on Wednesday, 17 July 2013 11:14
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The Colonial Beach Artists’ Guild hosts over 100 members. Artists and art lovers flock to the town each month to enjoy the Second Friday Art Walk.
The Art Walk features artists’ works at a number of shops and galleries in the downtown area along Washington Ave, along Hawthorne and Taylor Streets. Locations include the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, JarrettThor Fine Art Gallery, Pottery by Hanna and Studio A, the Riverview Inn and Visions by Shirl.
Many professionals and homemakers turn to art later in life. That was the case for artists Shirley Rush, Gerry Higgs, Judi Morris and Lee Bonacci.
Shirley Rush’s life-long dream to own an art gallery was realized a few years ago, when she opened Visions by Shirl, located at 116 Hawthorne St. next to the Colonial Beach Museum.
Rush currently displays the work of half a dozen hand-picked artists, along with her own work. Shirley is an accomplished artist who studied art at the Internationale Schule in Frankfurt, Germany when she was a ‘military brat’.
Rush took several years off to raise her son, and in 2006, after some encouragement from her husband Carroll, she picked up art where she had left off .
Some of the artists who display at Visions by Shirl were on hand last Friday to discuss what inspires them and how they entered the art world.
After serving on Colonial Beach Town Council for 10 years and the Planning Commission for 5, Gerry Higgs decided to give up politics after losing the election for County Supervisor to Larry Roberson, which he said was a blessing.
Higgs took up his painting eight years ago, saying, “I started taking pictures of landscapes and enjoyed it, but I thought I could create more mood and feelings by painting rather than by taking photographs. Painting is another way of expressing yourself. You have to continue to grow and move forward.”
Painting is how he accomplishes that. According to Higgs, painting is a skill you can acquire over time while creating beauty, which he says is a beautiful thing.
“Like being on Town Council or going to work, you are creating a product. You can create to make things better than they were before,” Higgs said. “Whether you’re trying to revitalize a boardwalk, trying to bring a town back or creating on a canvas, it’s all very rewarding in the end.”
For Higgs, painting can be relaxing or tense, depending on the subject matter and how the paint flows. Higgs advised, “Like life, not every job that you do is easy or enjoyable, but when you have finished and you do the best you can, it is rewarding.” Subject matter for Higgs’ art comes from places he has visited. Higgs also draws inspiration from his wife’s photography. Giving his work an added dimension of creativity.
When she isn’t cracking backs, Judi Morris, a chiropractor with her own business in Dahlgren, is painting beautiful oil paintings. Some are for pleasure, and some are for commission. She paints mostly nature scenes, but will also create paintings of barns, houses and other memories people want to preserve.
Morris first began showing an interest in art by copying comics. Her parents gave her a watercolors set at the age of 10. She took some art courses in high school and college. During her first job at an advertising company, she also took classes from a staff artist that taught on Saturdays.
Down the road on Hawthorne St., Lee Bonacci was displaying her work at the Riverview Inn.
Bonacci learned to paint after she retired. She and her husband had their own State Farm franchise selling insurance, but she decided to take up painting in October of 2006. Lee joined the Art League in March of 2007, and exhibited in her first show the following month, in April.
Bonacci said painting came naturally to her and said she is blessed, because her first painting was really good. She paints from local settings, from all over Virginia.
Bonacci said that she is not painting as much now, since she suffers from dry eye, which causes abrasions in her eyes. But she has enough to continue to show her work and has prints made from her original oils.
All works of art can be viewed throughout the month.