Bovines and Nature Charm Walls at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts

The collection of mostly environmentally-inspired art, titled by Stiles as “New Year, New Paintings — The Closer Look,” will have its formal public opening reception on Saturday, January 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Kathryn Markel Fine Arts Gallery (2418 Main Street, Bridgehampton). The show will be on view through the end of January.

By Amy Patton

Welcoming in the year of 2013 are spectacular splashes of color in the form of landscapes, still life paintings and whimsical animal prints created by a triumvirate of artists now showing their works at the Kathryn Markel Fine Arts Gallery in Bridgehampton.

Curated by Jeanie Stiles, an art lover who splits her time between East Hampton and Manhattan, the collection presents fine art — mostly inspired by the natural world —  featuring painters RJT “Toby” Haynes, John Hulsey and Ann Trusty.

Haynes, who hails from the small farming town of Cornwall, England and whose art studio is based in a cottage he owns there, draws much of the inspiration for his expressive watercolor, charcoal and oil prints from animals that roam freely near his home. In particular, perhaps his most inspiring muses, he said, are the most humble cows and steers with whom he shares the land in the remote countryside.

“There’s something about cows that I respond to,” the self-effacing artist explained last Saturday at the Markel Gallery on Montauk Highway. “There’s something about the way they interact with us. They’re more like our equals than dogs are.”

One of Haynes’ idiosyncratic watercolors, “I’m Ready For My Close-up, Mr. DeMille,” is an example of his insight into the spirit of the animals he draws and paints. The eyes of the subject – “Well, really, they truly are the windows to the soul,” said the artist – peer into and beyond the canvas, portraying the creatures he loves as often more than three-dimensional.

Also with works in the exhibit, which formally opens with a wine and cheese reception on Saturday, are the artists Hulsey and Trusty. A married couple based in Kansas, their images portray sharp oil and watercolor depictions of gardens, landscapes and reflections on the natural environment where they live in the American Midwest.

Avid gardeners and landscape artists, Hulsey and Trusty said they carefully cultivate the botanical surroundings on their 15 acre property in Kansas with the goal of gathering artistic inspiration for their paintings.

“We learned how to design our gardens from the legendary ‘plantsman’ Frank Cabot,” said Hulsey referring to a time years ago when the couple lived in New York on a property near the Hudson River. Cabot, a well-known “hands-on” horticulturist based in Cold Spring, was famous for creating some of America’s most celebrated gardens and worked tirelessly to preserve many of them. He died in 2011.

Hulsey and Trusty explained they often travel to places like Santa Fe, New Mexico and Colorado to find new subjects for their works. One such painting currently on display at the Markel gallery, titled “Aspen Light,” captures the beauty of the iconic trees of the Rocky Mountains in haunting detail.

In Kansas though, Hulsey said it can be more difficult to find inspiration for new projects, although their home garden provides much of it, mostly in the spring and summer seasons, as reflected in Trusty’s stunning “Troubadours,” a 30” x 40” oil painting of white blooms budding from an emerald green background of foliage.

“Gardening is a passion of ours,” remarked Hulsey. “There’s something about an artist understanding what he or she is looking at and to portray it on canvas. With a garden, we’re creating an environment that’s very artistic. It’s a way of drawing on the quiet and contemplative aspects of your natural surroundings whose end result can be beautiful art that others can enjoy and appreciate.”

Stiles, the curator of the exhibit, is heavily invested personally in the show — Ann Trusty is her sister and Stiles and her husband are close friends with Haynes, who is visiting the United States as their guest while away from his studio in Cornwall.

“I’m not an artist myself, but I’m surrounded by them,” Stiles laughed.

Those viewing the show are sure to be impressed by the unifying themes of nature and its reflective beauty as portrayed in the different mediums and varying interpretations by the trio, she said.

“I’m always interested in looking below the surface of things, to getting deeper into the meaning of the subjects that I paint,” said Haynes.