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Poetry inspires painter

Using a method of pouring the watercolor onto the canvas, Avis Davis has created her latest artistic series, "The Enchanted Forest," which encourages the viewer to use imagination to detect hidden images.

The Enchanted Forest

By Teresa Davis

Climb from your bed

at midnight's hour.

Leave robe and slippers behind.

Pad down through the boroughs,

slip under the fence

to the song which beckons your mind.

Beyond the last hill and

past all that you've known,

push past the rough dead

and the dry.

Unsure of your steps, but

press forward you must

at the sound of the lonely crane's cry.

And there at the edge of the

red water stones,

the journey will come to its end.

Velvet-lined brothers, join arms

in the moss,

Bowing low for the Queen they defend.

Breathe in the blue peace,

the quiet won't break,

nor will you change its tide.

Only promise to keep the secrets

seen here.

In this trust,

forever abide.

WORTHINGTON -- Avis Davis has taken a different direction with her paintings -- a path that she hopes will lead viewers into the depths of their imagination and into "The Enchanted Forest."

"Before, I was doing a lot of things that were pretty realistic, a lot of flower paintings," she explained. "This series is called 'The Enchanted Forest,' and when people are looking at the paintings, there are definitely trees going on and other things, but it's very mysterious. That's the thing I love about it is that you're caught almost in that dream state where, yeah, this is reality, but it doesn't quite feel like reality."

A registered nurse by vocation, Avis lives and paints in her studio on the shores of Little Spirit Lake, just over the border in Iowa. She retired from a health care administration position a few years ago, although she's now back to working three days a week at a care facility.

"It's cutting into my painting time," she said with a laugh.

But Avis finds time for experimenting with a new method of watercolor that is utilized throughout this series.

"I pour the paints, and then once they're dry, then it's looking at what you have there and pushing it in the direction you want it to go," she described. "I took a class last summer where we did poured paintings. I'd never done it before, and I just went home and played more and more with it. It was just so exciting. ... The other thing that's interesting about these paintings is I could not duplicate any of them, even if I wanted to, because of the way the process is. Every one stands on its own. I can't do anything like it again."

The resulting works are currently on display at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington. A framed version of the aforementioned poem, written by Avis' daughter, introduces visitors to the paintings.

"The idea is to go and read the poem, and that kind of leads you into this enchanted forest. ... Each one of the titles gives you some clue as to where I was going with the painting," she said. "I just personally love where you have a painting, and you see what it is, but there's more -- you see a lot more there when you look at it. My hope is that it draws people in and frees up their imagination a little bit, and they have a good time going off on their own little trip into the painting."

Although the paintings are a departure from Avis' previous work, they still maintain the vibrant quality that she's always tried to achieve.

"The thing that gets challenging with watercolor is that you think it's so dark and bright when you're working with it, but it always dries lighter," Avis explained. "One of the things I try to do is try to keep the colors kind of bright and pure. I don't want them blending too much. The other thing you'll notice in these paintings -- and it's probably going to be a type of signature for me -- is lots of yellow. Someone commented the other day, 'You love yellow, don't you, Avis?' and I do. You will see that theme of this yellow and the bright and light through the majority of the paintings."

Because she's been so pleased with the results, Avis plans to expand on the "Enchanted" series. In addition to shows like the one at the Nobles County Art Center, she regularly exhibits and sells her work at several northwest Iowa galleries, including Art on 16th and A Piece of Work Inc. in the Iowa Great Lakes area and McGee Gallery and Framing in Peterson, Iowa.

The opening reception for "The Enchanted Forest" of watercolors by Avis Davis will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Nobles County Art Center, 407 12th St., Worthington. The exhibit will continue through March 2. Hours are 2 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more, phone 372-8245.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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