July 6 until August 30


July 13  from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m.

Patricia Bolton’s new exhibit “Celebrating Beauty” at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History is notable for its eclectic choices of media from alcohol ink, pen and ink, colored pencils, and pastels to photography and more.  Bolton seldom uses oils or acrylics but often combines techniques in her mixed media pieces.  Her own photography, when it is not the art subject itself, often serves as the inspiration for her paintings.

Ask any successful artist to identify the most important contributor to their success and they will usually say, “practice.”  Bolton has been a serious photographer since the second grade.  If she is in a meeting, expect her to be doodling.  Take her to lunch, and she will be sketching the salt and pepper shakers.  One of her most exciting pieces “Bicchiere,” which is Italian for drinking glass, was begun on such an occasion.  The reflections off the glass and images seen through it in parallax are beautiful.

Patricia Bolton was born in Dayton, Ohio, where she took lessons at the Dayton Art Institute, one of the best facilities in the nation for children’s art.  They had her carving soap and painting on linoleum.  In college she took courses in studio art and drawing.  Those early experiences in exploring new media must have paid off.  “Chatham Dories” is rendered both in photography and in color pencils.

The artworks in the exhibit feature places where Bolton has lived or traveled.  She moved from Dayton to Cape Cod before coming to Christiansburg and commuting for two years to Little Rock. She loves to visit Italy.  She and her husband Gene almost bought a house in Cortona, a picturesque walled city on top of a mountain in Tuscany.

Several pieces feature alcohol inks on Yupo paper.  Alcohol inks have been around for a long time, but the use of Yupo paper appeared more recently, and the combination is becoming popular as a fine art form.  Since alcohol inks dry fast, they need to be used on a hydrophobic surface so they don’t sink into the medium.  They can be devilishly difficult to control, but the reward is the astonishing vibrancy of the colors, as seen in the abstract piece.  “Sunburst”, “Night Moon Over Green Field,” and “Sailors Delight” are some of the alcohol ink offerings in the exhibit.

Pastel is another medium that is seen less frequently than oils or acrylics.  The beautiful blending of colors possible with pastels is evident in “Mums and Iris” and “Red Amaryllis on Brown.”  Make a mistake?  Both pastels and alcohol inks are notoriously non-forgiving.

Unlike a lot of artists, Patricia Bolton is an extremely organized person.  The attention to detail is evident especially in the pen and ink drawings and color pencil works such as “Howling Wolves.”  Time-consuming precision is a hallmark of her work.  So is beauty.

-By Judy Niehaus

All images © Patricia Bolton