Rather than a distant, evaluative view, Mayhew’s is immersive: its fields of land, sky, and water fill the frame of the picture, alluring with the totality of nature. Like a portrait of her lover painted with all the hazy adoration you would expect, Mayhew’s landscapes are beloved places, steeped in sentiment and enchantment. In the beautiful “Atascadero”, a line of trees is captured at dusk, bathed in indigo, resembling sentient creatures. Rather than being caught in the artist’s crosshairs, nature lives and breathes in the thrilling colors of Mayhew.
If Mayhew is a romantic in his rapturous approach to nature, then Styles can be a pragmatist, taking a slightly more analytical approach. The styles often embrace the textures, systems and forms of nature through its oft-repeated emphasis on rows of trees or the orderly arrangement of crops in the field. In works that incorporate paint, collage, and mixed media on paper and canvas, Styles’ works often have the earthy texture of batik. His images summon the micro-details of the natural world, ridged bark, rough surfaces and the mottled look of the sky.
Like nature seen under a microscope, in “WR Stone Series #5” in acrylic on paper, Styles focuses on the mottled gray and white streaks of stone seen in fine detail. Styles’ work distills nature into a cohesive and uniform phenomenon to be studied and measured from painting to painting.
Although their styles are distinct, Styles and Mayhew are united by their shared interest in an imagined and interpreted landscape that is as much about the painting process as it is about capturing reality.
“The Nature of Art”
Until December 31. Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; noon-4 p.m. on Saturday. Free. September Gray Fine Art Gallery, 75 Bennett St., Atlanta, Suite O-2. 404-907-1923, www.septembregrayart.com.
Bottom line: Two artists and colleagues show their unique yet connected approach to nature.