Water + Color - Paintings by Sally Owens

Exhibition, June 9 – August 3, 2024


The Ansel Adams Gallery | Yosemite National Park, CA

Original Watercolor painting by Yosemite artist, Sally Owens

Artist’s Statement

We’re surrounded.

By beauty. Intrigue. Birth, blossoming, growth, change… (chaos, catastrophe, decay…)

The mountains are a place where natural processes predominate, and it is wise to expect the unexpected. Fires, floods, a super bloom of wildflowers… a foot of snow in May that nips them in the bud. It’s all a part of life in the Sierra. While artistic inspiration is abundant in the many majestic landmarks, I am particularly drawn to what is found in their shadows: common things with a quiet beauty that often goes unnoticed.

I try to keep my eyes open & take it all in.

As a little kid I loved to draw and paint… still do. I also loved to collect stuff… (still do.) Interesting leaves, rocks, feathers, bones. A kid’s life is lived close to the ground. These weren’t the subjects I painted in child- hood, but they seeped into my spirit. Now they populate my paintings, both the sturdy and ephemeral — a leaf, a feather, a branch, the iris in El Capitan meadow, the poppy further down canyon. I choose subjects I’d like to know better — we are going to be spending a good deal of time together, after all.

My paintings explore relationships between figures, shadows, and space. I strive to keep things simple, and let the subjects speak for themselves. Two Japanese concepts are fundamental to my work, that of Wabi Sabi: the embrace of impermanence and imperfection, and Yohaku no bi: an appreciation for the beauty of space left empty. I frequently paint subjects in isolation, but find the interplay between multiple figures especially compelling. Sometimes it’s even necessary to go beyond the single frame, as when the subjects and their relationship to one another are best expressed in a work consisting of multiple paintings that together form a single whole.

There’s a reason the attempt at art-making is referred to as a “practice.” Just as a pianist must practice in order to maintain their skills, so must a painter. My challenge in completing these works was that I am “out of practice,” having been on an unanticipated years-long pause brought about by the demands of family. My art practice requires energy, focus, tenacity, and humility. I often fall short.

Ours is an increasingly complex, fast-paced world. I find much reward in solitary hours spent in a simple pursuit requiring only water + color, brush and paper. In my work I try to reveal the subtleties of the natural objects around us, and to illuminate the extraordinary in ordinary things.

I will keep practicing. I am driven by the “force.” (No not that “force!!”)

“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…”
— Dylan Thomas

Water + Color - Paintings by Sally Owens


Original Artwork.
Watercolor Painting.
Signed and numbered by the artist.
21 x 11″

Red-shouldered Hawk Flight Feather, Original Watercolor by Sally Owens


Original Artwork.
Watercolor Painting.
Signed and numbered by the artist.
13.5 x 6″