Maryland native Blakely Little grew up on the Severn River and loved vacationing along the Atlantic in Ocean City. Today she’s riding the waves of artistic success in Charleston.
Artist Blakely Little loves the water. She discovered it while growing up in Severna Park, Md., sailing the Severn River in her parents’ 14-foot Flying Scot day sailer. The Littles liked taking family excursions, too, with the Eastern Shore as their frequent destination.
“I loved going to Ocean City on weekends with my family,” Little said. “I mean, the Severn River is beautiful, but it’s hard to beat the Atlantic Ocean. I really loved strolling along the Boardwalk, too. There were just so many interesting things for a kid to look at; it seemed to go on forever.”
When it was time to head off to college, she picked one that was near — you guessed it — the water. Surrounded by rivers and a stone’s throw to the ocean, the idyllic College of Charleston was the setting of her next four years and the institution from which she earned her bachelor’s degree in arts management with a minor in studio art.
Today, Little lives in Charleston with her new husband, Curtis. Citing influences such as Matisse and Monet, Little says her art comes not from a dark place but rather the sense of joy that suffuses her in everyday life. The result is a splashy, color-soaked style that can be fairly described as an Impressionist/Post-Impressionist hybrid. “I want everything I paint to have a sense of movement, color and feeling,” said Little.
She creates the dreamlike effect of her paintings by using a combination of oil paint, for thickness; gouache, for its bright, bold pigments and velvety, quick-drying opacity; and neocolor crayons, for fine detail. Linear shapes tend to be depicted as if the shimmering reflections from a sun-soaked lake, while other objects are suggested only by their outlines.
“I often give objects a transparent or translucent quality because I want to add a certain geometric aspect to the painting, which I feel confers a texture of perspective to the setting. I don’t render them fully because they are not the focal point; they are there for the purposes of context and dimension.”
Ranging in price from $75 for a 5”x 5” to the low-thousands for her largest creations, Little’s work has been on display at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy, and the Redux Contemporary Art Auction in Charleston. Current hangings include The Real Estate Studio and Cannon Green in Charleston, and Petite Maison in St. Simons Island, Ga.
Most recently, she has commissioned work for various businesses, professional offices and organizations around South Carolina, including the American Heart Association.
Though Little states she is quite comfortable with creating art that is more representational, she adds that the discipline it imposes is something she prefers to revisit in the future.
“At the moment, things like portraiture, still lifes and representational landscapes don’t really appeal to me as subjects,” she said. “Right now I’m having too much fun with the sense of freedom I experience from a more presentational approach. My professor in Florence, Lorenzo Pezzatini, once told me: ‘You do your best work when you’re playing.’ That sounds like pretty good advice to me.”
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