Claire Simpson Jones and Donny Luke are the Asheville Gallery of Art’s featured artists for the month of May. Visitors to the gallery will have the entire month to view their outstanding paintings. Their exhibit will run from May 1st-31st.
“This exhibition is a celebration of our individual travels through life,” joyously depicted in the watercolors of Donny Luke and Claire Simpson Jones. Traveling has always played a big part in both Donny and Claire’s world, broadening their awareness and perspective, opening their minds to new experiences, and providing unlimited inspiration.
Both artists have a passion for travel as well as a passion for the challenging, but gratifying, watercolor medium, and this exhibition combines these passions. “There is no better way to immerse yourself into a particular scene than painting. Whether choosing plein-air or painting from travel sketches and references brought back to the studio, all of our senses come to life and that experience is pure joy!” Every painting is an adventure that seems to take on a life of its own, often diverging from the initial design as it develops. Staying open to ‘following’ that direction or literally “going with the flow” of watercolor provides a sense of discovery and adventure that makes the process exciting. Donny and Claire both have a long list of places and techniques they plan to explore in the near future, adding to their repertoire of inspiration and work.
Donny Luke’s travels throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico, have given him many opportunities to take reference photos of some of the most beautiful places and landscapes in North America. He works from these references to create dramatic watercolor paintings. His work also includes many paintings of the breathtaking scenery and architecture in Western North Carolina, especially waterfalls, streams, and old barns.
Donny retired from a thirty-two year career as a professional architect in Asheville, NC and began his watercolor career in 2016. He has studied under nationally known watercolor artists including Michael Reardon, Iain Stewart, Keiko Tenabe, and Antonio Masi. He is a signature member of the Watercolor Society of North Carolina and has had paintings juried into the 2018, 2020, and 2021 WSNC Annual Juried Exhibitions with the 2020 painting ‘Santa Rosalina Relic’ receiving the WSNC Permanent Collection Purchase Award.
Claire Simpson Jones’ sensitive naturalist paintings draw from her many travels, here and abroad, and a lifetime of finding refuge and comfort in the raw beauty of our planet. In the past ten years, she has spent her summers in her favorite destinations’ England, Scotland, Australia, and our beautiful mountains of NC. Equipped with painting supplies, she roams the countryside, setting up to paint whenever inspiration comes her way. “Nature has always fed my soul for as long as I can remember. This connection has been, and continues to be, the primary inspiration for my paintings. I often begin with plein air studies and photos, taking them back to my studio to see where my next painting experience leads me. There is nothing to substitute for painting on location, with all of my senses alive, working quickly to capture the true essence of the scene before me.”
After working in graphic design, illustration, and a long career in teaching high school art, Claire has shifted her focus back to full time painting. She holds a BFA from Florida Atlantic University and has studied art at Ontario College of Art and California College of Art. She has also studied with nationally known watercolor artists including atelier workshops with the world renown watercolorist, Mary Whyte. Claire is a signature member of the Watercolor Society of North Carolina, earning awards, the most recent 2020 Best of Region Award.
Visitors to the Asheville Gallery of Art will be able to view Claire and Donny’s show from May1st through May 31st. They will be present for a special “Meet the Artist” event on First Friday, May 6th, from 5pm-8pm in the gallery at 82 Patton Avenue.