Elisabeth (Beth) Hudgins
Theme: Energy in Light
My artist’s eye is constantly considering ambient light.
I went looking, in this body of work, for the light that shines through and reveals something that was once unknown or unrecognized. I also kept in mind that light creates energy, and that became my starting point. I wanted to capture light that is felt or perceived — light that can be either internal or external — while also maintaining a sense of kinetic energy.
Many of my paintings reflect an innermost light, light from within my subject. Others reveal an external light, light that shines forth to dispel darkness. The technique I used to interpret such light involves use of watery layers of acrylic paint. I manipulate the paint around my paper with water, heat, and movement. Rarely do I use a paintbrush.
My goal is for my artwork to maintain a sense of energy, mystery, rhythm, vibrancy, and, of course, reveal the ambient light.
Theme: Light Over Water
Artists notice light that surrounds us. All the time, and wherever we find ourselves. Seeing and remembering how light looked and felt in a place recharges our memories, and burnishes the wonder in our ever-changing atmospheres.
Magically, bodies of water both reflect and absorb surrounding light, in wildly varying ways.
The ambience created by light over water, be it on a favorite kettle pond, coastal inlet, ocean edge, or still river, is special, a favorite subject to paint. Equally so is the light in places I simply imagine and long to see: amazing bioluminescent algae or expanses of sea ice.
Working in watercolor to capture this theme was wonderfully fitting!
Light is such an exciting, challenging, infinitely inspiring subject to depict. Like air, it’s all around, yet elusive and complex.
One strong thread that ties together several of my paintings is light in water: light filtering down into watery depths, revealing shapes and textures of life in an aqueous realm.
Another idea running through my work is light emerging from cosmic darkness, glowing and luminous through profound depths.
I chose very dark backgrounds for my paintings, and then played with paint and collage to find and build up the light. I combined bits and pieces of collaged elements and textured fragments into essentially central compositions. Then, using transparent layers and opaque accents, I chose a predominant color from the spectrum to unify the pieces into a whole.
Throughout, my aim was to present light as hope — a signal in the darkness to strengthen our spirits and illuminate a path forward.
Theme: Out of Darkness Comes the Light
In the midst of darkness, light persists. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
These have been dark times for us, individually and collectively. Light is needed to illuminate the paths ahead. For this collection of paintings, the unifying features are brightly lit colors emerging from darkness.
The first group of my paintings comprises abstract interpretations of our earthly and spiritual homes. “Dreams of the Afterlife” dares to imagine what happens to our souls after we leave the earth. “Fire and Ice” is a visual poem about the polarities on our planet. “Currents" explores the rising seas, and “Back-lit Leaves” hints of Monarch butterflies clinging to trees on their migration path. All refer to the dark effects of climate change on our planet. Yet, in the works’ pulsating golds, yellows, reds, and purples, we see hope for the future: we are linked together in community, and know we will survive.
In the second group are two semi-realistic paintings of colorful stained-glass light, pouring through windows and making reflections on the stone floors in a dark chapel. My inspiration for these comes from a small non-denominational chapel in the Sea Ranch community north of San Francisco. This little chapel, referred to as a “sanctuary,” is iconic and eccentric, with a long sloping roof that curves up at its ends. The interior is very dark but the light and color prevail.
A final painting, called “Springtime Light,” speaks to rebirth and hope for the future.
May we be touched by these humble lessons and sweet embrace!
Theme: Crown Shyness
Around me the trees stir in the leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
~ Mary Oliver
Our natural surroundings present us artists with opportunities to explore how nature relates to various themes and areas of focus. I am fascinated currently by the phenomenon of “crown shyness” in trees, wherein trees maintain gaps in their uppermost branches among themselves and other trees, and the way that light filters through pine needles and tree and bush branches, creating back-lit geometric patterns against the sky. My collection here explores the cracks in branches and bushes as the natural world’s way to intuitively allow healing light to reach dark places.
“Crown shyness” serves to prevent the spread of disease from tree to tree in forests while also allowing light to reach the lower branches, keeping them healthy.
I am forever captivated by the poetry of Mary Oliver as she explores trees and flowers and how they can be used to explore ideas of hope and healing. Her words speak to me as I paint. I hope to pass on viewers of my paintings the feelings that Oliver sparks in me by titling the paintings with snippets from her poems.