Nature is in a constant state of transition as one season evolves into another. A keen observer of those transitions, artist Karen Watson-Newlin uses acrylics to interpret them. “Seasonal Shifts — Colors and Textures,” an exhibit of her paintings, is on view through Dec. 30 in the Steinhauer Trust Art Gallery in the UW-Madison Arboretum Visitor Center, 1207 Seminole Hwy.

“This exhibition of acrylic paintings is demonstrating seasonal observations in Dane County landscapes, as well as imaginary landscape images, displaying the strength of substance in nature through textures and color sequences,” Watson-Newlin said in her exhibit proposal. “Viewers are urged to develop an awareness of personal spaces in nature through the visual and tactile sensations evident in the paintings.”

“Seasonal Shifts” features parks in Dane County Watson-Newlin has visited as well as her personal garden. Not just an ordinary garden, Watson-Newlin and her husband tend a National American Hemerocallis Display Garden featuring more than 500 hybridized daylilies on 1 1/2 acres.

“My painting studio looks out on my garden and pond inviting me to apply paint to canvas,” said Watson-Newlin. “Walks and hikes in beautiful Wisconsin conservancies and gardens also serve as endless sources of ideas. As I visually interpret these spaces in time, I am trying to capture the uniqueness of the moment that drew me into the scene and made me want to linger.”

After teaching art in public schools in Indiana and Wisconsin for 34 years, Watson-Newlin retired from the Verona Area School District and is now focusing on her painting career. Experienced with watercolor, oils, pastel, collage, fiber art and conte’ portrait drawing, she now works with acrylic and mixed media on canvas.

Watson-Newlin has been experimenting the past year using gold leaf as an under-layer to the paint and is intrigued with the way light is reflected throughout the day on the metallic layer. Some of her paintings in “Seasonal Shifts” have the gold leaf application.

“I love color and the interplay of lights and darks mixed with a strong emphasis on layers of texture, frequently painting with a knife to convey high energy,” Watson-Newlin said.

With paint, Watson-Newlin wants to demonstrate the sensitivity of her interaction with the nature that surrounds her. She hopes viewers “will want to stop, linger, and feel a connection to the scene.”

— Robyn Norton

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Robyn Norton is a features assistant for the Wisconsin State Journal.