Arts & Leisure

Pencils and pottery show farm animals in art

POTTER STACEY STANHOPE Dundon and colored pencil artist Catherine Palmer will be co-exhibiting at Brandon Artists Guild’s newest show, “Home Grown; Pasture Raised,” which will be on view for the months of September and October. The artists will be at a public opening reception on Friday, Sept. 3, from 5-7 p.m., 7 Center St. in Brandon. INDEPENDENT PHOTO / STEVE JAMES

With a name like “Home Grown; Pasture Raised” it’s no surprise that the new exhibit at the Brandon Artists Guild features farm animals — no, no, don’t get too excited, there won’t actually be sheep stuffing the gallery and chickens flapping in the windows. But you will see all sorts of animals illustrated on the ceramics of Stacey Stanhope Dundon and in Catherine Palmer’s colored pencil drawings.

“This exhibit is the culmination of a year and a half of work,” said Palmer, who started focusing more on her art after retiring from teaching eight years ago. “‘Home Grown; Pasture Raised’ covers everything from bunnies to honeybees, to cattle, horses… any sort of domesticated farm animal or pasture scenes.”

Palmer estimates she has about 20 pieces that will hang on the walls of the downtown Brandon gallery for the months of September and October. Dundone hopes her pottery will compliment Palmer’s two-dimensional work, adding depth to the exhibit. 

“We’ll make good use of the space together,” Palmer said. 

The pair not only share space well, but they also share a deep connection with farm animals. 

“My themes have always been horses,” said Dundon, who was raised in Georgia and grew up showing horses. Her themes first extended to equestrian barn companions, like goats and chickens. And now, the Orwell-based artist, will even include donkeys, cats, sheep, roosters, pigs, the occasional honeybee and sometimes even fish or vegetables on her pottery.

“I never know what I’m going to be working on until somebody asks me to do something,” Dundon explained. “But generally it’s going to be farm-themed because that’s what I do.”

Yes, that’s what Palmer does too.

“I’ve never been away from the animals,” said Palmer, who lives in New Haven on 55 acres of farmland. “My parents have a picture of me, babe-in-arms, on a horse… I’ve always lived on the farm, and I’ve always liked horses.”

Her husband, Pat Palmer, “unsuspectingly, married into horses” reads the couple’s website for their property — Thornapple Farm. And after the fateful combination of falling in love with dapple gray Percherons and winning the bid for Bristol’s trash and recycling pick-up in 1979; the Palmers’ horses have become famous Addison County equine.

“The visual art thing for me has been a long time in the making,” said Palmer, who actually has a degree in musical theater and teaching choral music. “I got hooked on colored pencils; you don’t take them seriously at first, but when you actually get into artist-quality pencils they’re fantastic.”

Palmer then started experimenting with different types of paper, pastel board, even wood.

“Every surface has a different feel to it,” she said. “To get the intense color, it takes lots and lots and lots of layers…. Oh, it’s slow. You have to have patience. It’s a bunch to tiny strokes.”

Palmer’s drawings have branched out to include birds and zebras, and people with their animals. 

“I work mainly from photographs,” Palmer said with a laugh, “because the animals don’t stand still.”

Palmer said that for every 10 finished pieces, she counts five or six pieces “that are never going to work.”

“Oh yeah,” Dundon echoed, “I’ve got a whole closet full… We all have that work that hasn’t been seen by the right buyer yet.”

For this exhibit at BAG, both Dundon and Palmer will be showing pieces that have never been seen at the Guild before. 

“We get juried into the show, and then we get to pick what we want to sell,” said Dundon, who is currently the president of the Guild. “It’s such an asset to have an outlet where we can show our work and have complete control over what we show.”

“It’s a great time to be exhibiting in Brandon, too,” said Palmer, who is part of BAG’s display committee. “Brandon is hopin’!” 

An opening reception will be held on Friday, Sept. 3, 5-7 p.m., at the Brandon Artists Guild at 7 Center St. in Brandon. Both Palmer and Dundon will be there to meet guests and talk about their work. 

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