Discover Local Artists: Julia Whatley and Sonya Gaskell

Julia Whatley

Artspace 408, an exhibit sponsored by the Center for Creative Education, is currently featuring  the works of local artists Steve Brouse, Nelson Corchado, Sonya Gaskell, Veronica Volani-Inza, Frances Linn, Robert Murphy, Kevin Murray and Juia Whatley for the month of August.

For a quick taste, here are works by artists Whatley and Gaskell.

Julia Whatley of Lake Worth considers herself an action painter interested in the application of paint. “I employ vigorous mark-making to build form and to create energy and movement,” she said.

Color is integral and helps to express her subjects. She develops designs on her computer and paints them directly from the display screen. She also works from life — painting industrial scenes, for example.

Whatley is also interested in exploring human emotions and experiences through her paintings — one such example is “Rodrigo” from her  mug shot series, pictured below.

She invites her viewers to look beyond aspects of “beauty” and  “objects” often depicted in traditional paintings, and open their minds to perceiving the  human condition in its more raw states.

“It’s interesting to see the mug shots as a group,” she explains. “These people are not posed or fixed up and are in vulnerable situations.”

“Rodrigo,” by Julia Whatley, is a 16-by-20-inch acrylic-on-canvas painting, priced at $400.

Sonya Gaskell of Jupiter began plien aire painting in 1981 during a summer workshop in Maine with a group of Niel Welliver Graduate students.

Sonya Gaskill

She considers herself fortunate to be in the class of painters who are involved in what she calls a “visual conversation,” based on direct observation of outdoor landscape.

“I seek to express the unified nature of reality and its underlying nature of consciousness, through the use of the language of paint, tensioned continuously over a surface,” she said.  “In a three-point oscillation between observer, surface and perceived space, I seek to provide a window of transcendence —  an immediacy, which is simultaneously apparent and elusive, as the viewer’s perception shifts between awareness of paint (close up, on the canvas) and the eye’s journey through perceived space (as the viewer beholds the painting from a distance).”

“Juno Pier Wide,” by Sonya Gaskell, is an acrylic on board, 11 by 24 inches, priced at $500.

Gaskell has six pieces in this exhibit — the one above represents one of her recent works painted under the Juno Pier. “From a painterly perspective, it represents interesting subject matter, with bright sunlit areas of sand and water, and mid-tone areas lit by reflective light from the sand and water,” she said.

Artspace 408, at 408 Northwood Road in Northwood Village, is a multi-use art space that features exhibits including photography, pottery, sculpture by local artists and local students. The gallery’s exhibits change on the last Friday of each month and the openings of the new shows coincide with Northwood Village’s Art and Wine Promenade. Off season, the gallery is open Friday and Saturday evenings from 6-10 p.m. For information, call Scott Curry, at (561) 805-9927.

Discover Local Artists: Sonya Gaskell

Whether Sonya Gaskell, of Jupiter, paints on location or in her studio, it’s really space that she’s contemplating. And freedom.

"Carlin," Oil on Board, 10 by 11 inches (at Lazy Loggerhead Cafe) $300
“Carlin,” Oil on Board, 10 by 11 inches (at Lazy Loggerhead Cafe) $300

Come see her works in any of the three shows where she is currently on exhibit: at the Armory Art Center’s “Awe Unveiled,” the Boca Raton City Library, and the Lazy Loggerhead Café in Carlin Park, Jupiter.

Sonya Gaskell
Sonya Gaskell

As she explains it, in her works, she aims for the viewer to experience the pictorial space that she creates as well as the stroke of the paint on the canvas – at about a 50-to-50 percent, back-and-forth interchange.

In that interplay, her viewer “gets” an experience of spaciousness as an element.

To demonstrate: If you stand alone in a big auditorium, you might sum up the feeling you get in that room as open and airy. On the other hand, if you are shut up in a closet, you might feel claustrophobic. So, she asks: How come? It’s just you standing in a space, so where do the feelings come from?

"December 31st," 36 by 53 inches, Oil on Canvas (at the Armory Show) $8,000
“December 31st,” 36 by 53 inches, Oil on Canvas (at the Armory Show) $8,000

Gaskell believes it’s an internal experience, an aspect of the mind or consciousness.

Get that, and Gaskell has achieved her purpose. A little magic transpires, she said, as the viewer is “teased back and forth between the pictorial space and the mellifluous painterly blocks of paint on the surface.”

For Gaskell, painting freely is a joyful experience, however, she still maintains a commitment to her subject matter.

Take her painting of  “Old Regal Sentiment,” for example. The car from her former marriage sits on her property, the beast she tried to ignore.

"'Old Regal' Sentiment," 18 by 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, (in the Library Show) $600
“‘Old Regal’ Sentiment,” 18 by 24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, (in the Library Show) $600

One day, as the sun fell on it, she was struck by its beauty and decided to paint it. In the process, she remembered the good times, the trips to the beach, and the old hippy lifestyle she at one time enjoyed. The rust, she found, had character and color. Light played off the old chrome beautifully. And she experienced the alchemy of painting, where “old resentment transmuted to ‘Old Regal Sentiment.’”

Let her magic work on you – can you move between the two experiences and come to taste space?

The Armory Art Center, located at 1700 Parker Blvd., West Palm Beach, is exhibiting two shows, “Awe Unveiled” and “Artists in Residence,” now through May 14. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The Boca Raton City Library is located at 1501 N.W. West Spanish River Drive, Boca Raton. The show continues through May 11. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The Lazy Loggerhead Café is at 401 S Highway A1A, the beach, in Carlin Park, Jupiter. Hours are 8:30 to 3 p.m. daily.

For information, call Gaskell at (561) 743-1216.

Discover Local Artists: The Art Attic at Liman Gallery

Liman Gallery in Palm Beach is currently featuring some local artists in its Art Attic gallery, including Elle Schorr of Lantana, Cynthia Gardner of Palm Beach Gardens and Sonya Gaskell of Jupiter.

Elle Schorr
Elle Schorr

Elle Schorr, who has lived in South Florida for about ten years, still feels like a lucky traveler, who has been gifted with the time to look and to explore.

“I consciously seek out this juxtaposition of cultures, life styles, and times in our lives. Some of my images appear to be photo collages or photo montages, but they are, in fact, single photographic images.”

"New Development"
“New Development” is a photograph 18 by 24 inches, priced at $500.

Others are more direct in their approach, she said, but all explore the dualities and multiple incongruous impressions that bombard us.

Cynthia Gardner
Cynthia Gardner

Cynthia Gardner hears her paintings called audacious, bold and color-filled.  “I love the texture of the paint and to create tactile experiences that present my subject in a new way.

“My art is playful, rich with color and tries to reach out and shake your hand! I paint to experience joy and to transform the challenges of daily life to a world full of color, vigor, and optimism.

"Dale's Back Yard"
“Dale’s Back Yard” is an oil painting, 18 by 24 inches, priced at $1,500.

“I strive to create that experience for my viewer. My primary love is plein air oil painting.”

Sonya Gaskell
Sonya Gaskell

“Dune Shadow” began while Sonya Gaskell was taking a dip in the ocean and looking for a shady spot to start her second painting of the day. “I began looking at the shadow being cast by the dune as shelter from the sun. Then I looked at it as subject matter, observing the hot bright sand from within the shadow.”

The main subject matter consists of several large shapes of the core and cast shadows of the dune juxtaposed with illuminated beach, sea and sky. Once she had made strong observations of the relationships between the large shapes of color, she began mixing regions of paint on her palette. She blocked out large shapes using thick paint with the flat of metal painting knives, and then, she used a wet-on-wet technique sliding the edge of the blades to flesh out details.

"Dune Shadow"
“Dune Shadow” is an oil on board, 8 by 9inches, priced at $450.

“Although I paint many longer paintings taking days, weeks or months, this painting was finished in under two hours and received no studio work. A perfect Zen moment in which the landscape, painter and observers experienced a visual accord. This for me is what it is all about.”

Liman Gallery is at 139 North County Road, Palm Beach. Hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 561-659-7050 or visit its Web site

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