Two Tampa artists share the spotlight once again in an exhibit that annually is anticipated by fans of both artists.
For the fourth year in a row, Taylor Ikin and Laura Waller will bring out some of their newest and best efforts for a joint show at Nuance Galleries in South Tampa.
Though the two artists' works are different, they share enough similarities for the show to be cohesive.
Both women are accomplished artists who share a passion for interpreting the beauty in nature and landscapes.
But their differences in palette, style, mediums and subjects give the show its edge.
For one thing, Waller switched from watercolors to oils about three years ago when the market offered water-mixable oils.
"It's been like a new life for me," Waller said. "Oils take a lot more concentration. They're not as spontaneous, but you can go back in and take things out. And the oils allow me to get this softness and allow me to better paint the atmospheric or enigmatic nature of the coast."
That softness is a new characteristic in her paintings, as is their size. She now creates many of her paintings on a 20-by-24-inch canvas.
A second difference is that Waller has found her inspiration in places beyond Tampa. Her part of the show has an east-west theme, where a painting either is about the beaches and coves of the west coast of California, or the harbors and waterfronts of Maine's coastline.
"I'm painting the differences between the two coasts," she said. "In Maine, the coast is close in, and the people are using the water — fishing swimming, boating. When you go to California, you're seeing things from a distance because most of the time you're standing on a cliff looking out at the sea. The people are not using the water; they're enjoying it, but they're not in it.
Ikin's works, on the other hand, are all watercolors, inspired by out-of-the-way streams and woodlands here in Florida. Until recently, she painted exclusively on YUPO. In 1997, Ikin was one of the first artists nationwide to start using this slippery synthetic paper for watercolor. Now, thanks to Ikin and other artists, YUPO is a studio staple.
Ever the adventurer when it comes to painting, Ikin had to find a new challenge.
She found it in a new synthetic paper called TerraSkin that she has been asked to try out and see how it works for watercolors. It is made from stone and other inert ingredients and is supposed to be environmentally friendly.
I was with Ikin in her South Tampa studio when she began a large painting on this new surface.
"I'm having a good run with it," she said. "It's a strong surface with just a bit of a tooth to it, not as slippery as some surfaces."
The tooth means the paper holds onto a bit of pigment, she said. "Even after lifting all the color off, it leaves a light tint. So it's harder to get down to a sharp white."
That doesn't bother Ikin; it's just the sort of painting happenstance that gives her a thrill.
"The pigment does some interesting things on the paper," she said. "I never know what's going to happen. That's half the fun. You don't fight it, you just work around it."
Ikin will have paintings on YUPO and paintings on TerraSkin in the Nuance exhibit. See if you can tell which is which.
Meet both artists and see their work at an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Nuance Galleries, 804 S. Dale Mabry Highway in South Tampa. Call the gallery at (813) 875-0511 with questions.