Arroyo Grande artist Jeri Edwards is a wildlife painter who simply doesn't do plein air paintings. Edwards prefers to be a bit more mindful and in-the-moment when she's out in nature, and painting doesn't exactly jibe with that.
"I like to be more active outdoors in terms of hiking, walking, listening," Edwards said. "And then I bring that back with me into my studio."
- Images Courtesy Of Jeri Edwards
- OH, BE JOYFUL When Arroyo Grande artist Jeri Edwards looks at a dog, she sees a pure, unbridled joy that she tries to capture in pieces like Smiley.
So Edwards' artistic process typically involves working from a photo or memory once she's back at her studio painting and creating away in gouache (an opaque watercolor), acrylic, ink, or collage. Edwards' work, along with the works of local poets, is currently on display at the Atascadero Library as part of the Animal Friends exhibit.
While Edwards now lives in the hills of Arroyo Grande, she grew up back east in Virginia with the woods as her backyard.
"When I'm in the woods, I just feel at home," she said. "There's this instant comfort level. I cannot be without that."
Edwards is a fur mom to two rescue dogs, Roadie and Zinnia, but any time she sees a dog out and about, she's struck by the pure expression of happiness on its face as it dives into the water at the beach, or runs after a ball. Such joy is a feeling that she aims to capture in paintings like Smiley, which features a whimsical, cheery depiction of an undoubtedly good dog with a white face and brown ears, donning that signature dopey, open-mouthed smile.
- Images Courtesy Of Jeri Edwards
- STRIKING While Jeri Edwards would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite bird, the coloring and eyes of herons seem to catch her eye and make their way into paintings, like Great Blue Heron, time and time again.
At home, Edwards has an entire wall of dog paintings that never fails to make her grin when she walks by it.
"I don't know that dog personally," Edwards said of the pup in Smiley. "I may have taken a photo of a dog and then painted it. It's the expression that I'm after. Dogs exude such unbridled joy. I can't help but try and capture that in art."
She is also an avid bird watcher. While Edwards couldn't possibly pick just one bird as her favorite, time and time again herons find their way into her pieces. Her painting Great Blue Heron shows a somewhat abstract view of a heron triumphantly holding a fish in its mouth.
- Photo Courtesy Of Jeri Edwards
- NATURE LOVER From her upbringing in the woods of North Carolina, to her current life in the hills of Arroyo Grande, artist Jeri Edwards spends as much time in nature as possible.
"I love how they fish for fish," she said. "I love their elegant skulking. Great Blue Herons catch my attention because of their coloring and their eyes."
Edwards' work is always playful and filled with bright, bold colors that she finds in nature.
"I go into my studio and give myself permission to play," Edwards said. "The goal is to explore and be creative. Every day is different in nature. You can't go to the same trail and see the same things every time. I'm excited about that. I want to continue to marvel at nature." Δ
Arts Writer Ryah Cooley is off hiking with her two pit bulls, Lola and Hercules. Send her a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.