Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay Artist Sally King Benedict creates works that are a beautiful confluence of drawing and painting and that speak graphically in a visual language of color washes, abstract forms and intersecting lines. When creating, she does so unselfconsciously, with obvious freedom and spontaneity, and with a palpable openness, even when being observed. There is a purity to her work that is deeply rich and playful.There is no serious staring at the canvas or paper, no long contemplative moments before maker and medium meet. She glides effortlessly between several different works in progress, instinctive in her movements, dripping paint on this one, crushing charcoal on another, enjoying the fresh air on the back patio of her Atlanta studio where the light is dappled and the surrounding garden is lush and dreamy. She works with multiple brushes in hand at once, her cache of Japanese calligraphy brushes equally at home beside her hardware store bristle brushes that have been trashed by repeated scrubbings across her canvases. Like waves lapping the shore, she is easy come and go with her process, in a comfortable creative rhythm. If there is tension there, it is hidden behind her inherent effervescence of spirit, a quick and contagious Cheshire cat-like smile and fairy laugh.
MOSS, 40 x 40, 2013 | Hidell Brooks Gallery
Benedict’s creative roots run deep, back to her childhood in Atlanta, GA, where she cut her milk teeth in a home that firmly encouraged all manner of creative ilke. “I have been painting and drawing and making sculpture ever since I can remember,” she said. “It always came naturally to me.” It didn't hurt that she was literally submerged in world of modern art by her parents, whose collection included works by Todd Murphy and Dennis Paul Williams. “My mom worked for her good friend Doug Macon who owned a contemporary art gallery in Atlanta in the 90s,” she said, “and Doug was always encouraging me to be creative.” It was this type of upbringing, one that relished whimsy and creative wit, that encouraged Benedict’s color outside the lines approach to self-expression and helped map the course to her current vocation.
She went on to study studio art and painting at the College of Charleston in South Carolina under Cliff Peacock as well as printmaking under Barbara Duval. “This duo shaped my practice as an artist for sure,” Benedict said. “I learned something important from every bit of criticism they handed me.” After college, Benedict stayed in Charleston for several years, met and married her husband George, and enjoyed storied success as an artist, her paintings snatched up by collectors and gracing the pages of national and regional magazines. A phenomenal selection of her works are currently for sale at Hidell Brooks Gallery in Charlotte, NC, but if you can't make it there, good things come to those who shop online. Her website has an enviable bevy of new works up for grabs in her studio. Benedict has also recently collaborated with Serena & Lily and you can expect to see her original works on paper and canvas as well as signed limited edition fine art prints of her work through their Art Collection, which will be available in May. Stay posted and we'll let you know as soon as they are available so you can make haste and break out your plastic. In the meantime, enjoy an exclusive sneak peek of three works that will be offered by Serena & Lily in their Art Collection.
TOP | Brown Edge Paper, 10 x 13, paper, 2013 MIDDLE | Aquatint, limited edition print, 2013 BOTTOM | Abstract Gold, 20 x 24, canvas, 2013 All three, and others, will be available exclusively through Serena & Lily's Art Collection starting in May 2013
Admittedly, Benedict has been largely influenced by Abstract Expressionists like the great Helen Frankenthaler, a pioneer in Color Field painting, and Richard Diebenkorn, arguably one of the most influential and prolific American modern artists of the 20th century, as well as Pablo Picasso, Joan Mitchell and David Hockney. As such, she dallies part in figurative and geometric abstraction but there is something uniquely fresh and singular about her eye, her particular spin on abstract imagery. Her color sense is recognizably Benedict, her use of flax Belgian linen panels washed in her favorite hues of black, blue and white are a trademark and highly collectable. The subjects in her face paintings are partly abstraction and cubism, but again, in signature Benedict style, often appear well fed, cherubic, and echo Ziggy Stardust with geometric cheeks, blocky neon eyebrows and noses out of joint.
GREEN BROW, 12 x 16, 2010 | guache and oil pastel on linen board
SWEET CHEEKS, 24 x 24, 2013 | acrylic, gouache, ink, charcoal and oil pastel on linen
Her sumi ink paintings are an altogether different subject. Historically, Japanese sumi ink painting verges on the mystical and is believed to capture the unseen with an indelible inked brush stroke, one that cannot be changed or altered—you know, like deep metaphors for life. Let’s just say Benedict’s sumi ink works are rooted in more of a I've got noidea how this is going to end up kind ofmysticism. She starts by moistening the Arches Rives BFKpaper with water, loads her Japanese calligraphy brush with sumi ink and then, in a series of instinctive, broad strokes, water and ink react resulting in a crazy radial ripple effect, a squid ink like plume of subtle shading and tonal variation, that morphs and changes continually until the paper dries. Then for good measure Benedict grabs some charcoal and random pastels, crushes them into small bits and throws all that on the moistened paper. It’s this kind of approach to art that really excites Benedict. “I love seeing how different liquids and pigments take to different surfaces,” she said. ”It's a constant science project in my studio!”
And speaking of fairies again, Benedict has an endearing lightness of being, much like Peter Pan, who knew that the real trick to happiness was to keep the best of the child you were at heart, without forgetting when you grow up. Is it her lightness of constitution, her ebullience, that drives her creative vision and makes her art so desirable and lust worthy? At the very least, it certainly lends itself to her emphatic embrace of motherhood to her nine month old son River. Benedict has most definitely grown up but it has only sweetened the deal for her artistically. “My entire being is better with a baby,” she said. “I no longer take time in the studio for granted. I feel like he has turned a light on within in me that I never knew I had.” That said, her days are delightfully filled with lots of painting, laughing and playing with her family. Her perfect day? “Sunny, 75 degrees....road tripping with my husband and baby boy.....final destination: Duryea's Lobster Deck, Montauk.” My guess is that wherever she is, Benedict is always at play in the color field of her making, picking flowers and making daisy chains with a mischievous grin on her face.