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Did you happen to catch the featured images that we used for each of our posts last week about Historic Garden Week’s RVA tours? These lovely watercolors were all created by Richmond’s own Beth Marchant. We have been wanting to feature her for quite some time in our Artist in Residence series, and she graciously agreed to let us snap a couple of shots of her in action and answer a few questions.
The 2017 Guidebooks for Historic Garden Week are out all over the state in anticipation of this year’s tours. One of the best parts of the book are your house portraits. How long have you been contributing these portraits to the Guidebook?
I started in 1997. Until 2012 the illustrations were all ink drawings. When Karen Miller came on board, we decided watercolors would be the way to go.
This year you created 30 of these, one for each tour. When did you start this year’s project and, on average, how long does each one take?
This year I did 29 watercolors. I started receiving the photos in mid-September and probably started painting mid-October. I delivered them on November 29th. I spend a lot of time organizing/labeling/editing the photographs of the houses, which probably averages out to 30 minutes for each photo. I print the photos and work on my drawing table. It take 2-3 hours to actually draw it onto my board, then ink it, then paint it.
How do you decide which homes will be painted?
Normally each tour’s committee picks the featured house. On a few occasions (Richmond tours) they’ve let me pick. I usually go for beauty and color.
How big are each of these portraits and what materials (including favorite brand of paint) do you use?
Believe it or not, the originals are the same size as they are in the Guidebook – 5.25″ x 3.9″. I use Strathmore Mixed Media 140 lb. paper and mostly Windsor and Newton watercolor paint. I also always use Macron 01 ink pens.
Do you have any rituals that you follow when you paint – special music you listen to or a certain time of the day?
No rituals… I can paint anytime of day since I use my big table lamp for my light. Usually I listen to classical music.
When did you start painting full-time?
After my daughter was born in 1980, I started taking commissions for watercolors portraits of homes and did that whenever I could. As my 2 children grew, I had more time to paint. When my youngest went to college in 2003, I gradually began my schedule which I try to adhere to today, – (though very flexible) is getting to my studio, (which is my Florida room in my house,) by 10:30 and painting until 5:30 or 6.
If one of our readers wants to commission a similar work for her own home, what is the process and how much should she expect to pay?
I have been painting formal watercolor portraits of homes for over 35 years. They are more expensive and you can see samples on my website (www.bethmarchant.com), but the Guidebook style paintings ranging from 5 x 7″ to 8 x 10″ will start at $450- $650.
As you can see from the photos of Beth in action touching up a painting of Harbour Island, Bahamas, that she is completing for her daughter, she is more than a watercolorist. Oil is another favorite medium. In fact a series of her rural-focused oil paintings will be the subject of a show 0pening May 5th at the Cabell Gallery, which we visited on our recent trip to the Town of Lexington, Virginia (you might just get a sneak peek of them on her personal Facebook page).
Prolific as she is, Beth makes time to gather regularly with a small collective of other local representational artists that they refer to as Hang 5, which we featured in conjunction with Historic Garden Week 2014 here. She has become an accomplished plein air painter and is a member of the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast. Beth contributed a painting to a special project the group is releasing later this year, and we are looking forward to featuring it when it comes out.
I am in awe of this new grandmother’s skills and accomplishments and so appreciative of the time she spent with The Gracious Posse. Her light-filled paintings feel peaceful and fresh. Take the time to seek them out in person (keep up with her shows here). You will be as delighted as the owners of the homes featured in watercolor throughout the Historic Garden Week Guidebook undoubtedly are.
April 25, 2017
Thanks so much to our Sponsor of the Day, The Ivy Market! Hope to see you there!
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