Magnolias: Sous Le Pont will be the place to be on Thursday, September 29 when you're craving a craft caffeine fix. Staying open beyond normal hours until 7 PM, the coffeeshop everyone loves to Instagram is honoring National Coffee Day with a double shot of specials, live music, giveaways and the unveil of a new art show, Still Life by Austin-based artist Sarah Atlee.
For the day dedicated to the beloved beverage, Magnolias will pour half-priced drip coffee all day long beginning at 7 AM. Then when the clock strikes 5 PM, live music from F O X J A R and Ramsey will kick off the art show and cue the start of another java jolt special – a free pastry with the purchase of a specialty pour-over crafted by the shop’s talented baristas until 7 PM.
Atlee's collection of works that will soon adorn the walls of Magnolias, is bright, delightful, and even appetizing. Read on as we learn more about Atlee and her exhibition Still Life in this quick, six-question interview:
HD: Versatility between abstractions and incredibly realistic works seems to be your forte. Which did you master first? How do you transition so effortlessly between the two?
SA: I love realism and abstraction equally. I grew up with art and art books all around the house, so at a young age I was acquainted with many modes of visual expression. My fascination with realistic representation really took hold once my motor skills began catching up with my imagination. In eighth grade I painted a watercolor of my shoe and started to understand what was possible.
After making many realistic paintings, I miss abstraction, and vice versa. It's a pendulum swinging back and forth to whichever technique best communicates my ideas.
HD: Using acrylics, you capture the beauty and intricate detail of food in Still Life. What makes a particular dish or subject worth painting?
SA: I notice compositions everywhere I look. Sometimes I search intentionally for potential subjects - when it's peach season, for example. Other times I might notice something like a tamale sitting on a plate, and become excited about how the shapes interact. I notice forms, colors, light - all of these elements synthesize and I'm compelled to capture the moment for later use.
HD: Is there a person, place, or thing that inspires you the most?
SA: I never know what's going to strike me. But I'm a very two-dimensional thinker. It's usually a design, an arrangement of elements, that says, Hey, pay attention to me. Language is a big trigger. Words and phrases stick in my head. They're often the seeds for my abstract work.
HD: What was your creative process like for Still Life? Do you have a favorite piece from this collection?
SA: I take lots of pictures of my food. When beginning a new series, I go through my photo archives and cull them down to about 15 favorites. I use these images as references when it's time to put paint to canvas.
For the painting itself, I use Golden Fluid Acrylics. They're very thin, but with a high concentration of pigment, so it's not like watering down regular tube acrylics. I lay down many transparent washes to get precise, intense colors. Only the final details are done with opaque applications of paint.
Do I have a favorite? I'm pretty crazy about the work titled Peel. I love combining organic and geometric shapes. Using textiles as compositional elements creates a great opportunity to get graphic while still conveying space and texture. I also love using straight black, because it's a painting no-no.
HD: Many creatives frequent Magnolias - from photographers to painters and graphic designers. What words of wisdom do you have for practicing artists?
SA: I could flood you with advice, as I'm sure I've done to others on occasion. But it boils down to this. 1) Try everything. 2) Be brutally honest about what does and doesn't work for you. 3) Repeat forever. 4) Don't be mean.
HD: The next big thing for Sarah Atlee?
SA: Over the last several years I have become enthralled with quilting, particularly improvisational techniques. Every quilt is a kind of abstraction, from traditional patterns to elaborate art quilts in which imagery is described with fabric. Quilting is creeping into my painting in both realistic and abstract ways. I'm excited about exploring quilts as a means of visual expression.
Still Life is presented at Magnolias: Sous Le Pont in partnership with Ro2 Art. Works are available for purchase.