Maryland painter Jill Basham says she collects work by other artists that she thinks is beautiful. But she also does it to learn.
“I would encourage other artists to collect paintings as well,” says Basham. “I learn a lot looking at other people’s work — really, really looking. I recommend spending time looking at them to see how they handle subject matter.”
Basham says that she collects paintings of scenes both far from her comfort zone, and right in her wheelhouse. The first painting she discusses is Tim Kelly’s “A Dreary Day in Baltimore.”
“It’s an iconic Kelly image,” says Basham. “He focuses on Baltimore, and this is true Baltimore. People would typically pass this subject by — it’s an alleyway. I would never paint like him — such very refined paint handling. I have no patience to paint every brick in the scene, but what he’s done is absolutely incredible. The abstract composition, with those rectangles and squares, is just so strong. The water reflecting up and the brickwork are stunning. The light and color are so perfect. It’s incredible to me that it’s plein air.”
Second comes a piece by Paul Bachem. “I saw this on Facebook, and I was painting a lot of oceans then. I love it when I see another artist do so well what I’m trying to do. The light is what initially attracted me to this painting. And then the subtle colors — and the greens next to the blue-gray sky. It’s so naturally handled. I don’t like work that tries too hard.”
Last comes a figure painting by Oregon artist Za Vue. “I typically don’t paint the figure, and I love how she handled it here,” Basham says. “This was a trade. The brushwork is fantastic — loose, and the young woman’s face is so well done. The way she handled the hat is so striking; it draws the eye. The composition is strong, and the peach dress is absolutely gorgeous. If you look at the flowers, they easily could have overwhelmed the whole painting, but Za got the figure’s face to take the center attention. It’s the edges of her face, and the flowers … soft, with those colors! And the tablecloth is wonderful.”