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Friday, July 19, 2024


Anyone who thinks artists produce art only when motivated by their muse has never tried to contact one in the final days before the opening of a show. As with most creative endeavors — writing, composing and choreographing come immediately to mind — there is nothing like a looming deadline to inspire intense creativity. Down to the wire, with the invitations out and the framer standing by, the painter paints.
Thus, it was no surprise that Corinne Van Rensselaer was not to be found in her Color of Joy gallery and gift shop on Wednesday morning, Dec. 15. She was, assistant Mercedes Berruz said, "unreachable, painting."
Eventually, Van Rensselaer did come to the shop in American Yacht Harbor and returned a call to The Source.
She'll be showing nine watercolors at the exhibition, which opens Thursday, Dec. 16, with a reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Their subject matter includes her signature hibiscus blossoms as well as underwater scenes and abstracts — which is nothing new, she notes. "Actually, abstracts are how I started," the British-born artist who studied for a career in architecture recalls. "All of the pieces for this show have abstract elements."
Also in common, she adds, is the "bright palette" of colors she has used. She's calling the show collectively "Colors That Sing."
Van Rensselaer some years ago opened the Color of Joy and at one point was even operating a second branch. As is the way of the working world, the business demands deducted from her creative time, and so while she has always included her own work among the gallery offerings, she hasn't had a solo show of her own "in a long time."
"I finally decided the only way it was going to get done was to set myself a deadline," she says. "I decided in October to do the show in December. I found a little studio space. It's been an hour here and an hour there ever since." There have even been a few occasions when she's been able to put in a half-day or so at a time. "I have the most tolerant family in the world," she says. "I couldn't do it without them."
Van Rensselaer usually works on two or three paintings at a time. "With watercolors, it's very easy to overpaint," she says, "so I stop for a day, then go back and look at the painting and decide whether it really is finished."
By Wednesday afternoon, all nine works were finished except for one signature to be added. Then the deadline pressure was passed to her framer, as all the works will be hung and sold framed. "I'm putting her through hell," she says of framer Mina Orenstein, who, fortuitously, works within Color of Joy itself.
"I'm excited about the work, and I feel that I have a momentum going so that I'll continue to produce," Van Rensselaer says. "If things sell well opening night, that will be an incentive. I'm hoping gradually to begin producing on a regular basis."
The opening also serves as a Christmas party "thank you to all our customers," the artist/shop owner says. There'll be refreshments and music by Sally Smith on keyboards and vocals. For more information, call 775-4020 or e-mail to art@virginislands.net.

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