A WINE ODYSSEY: The Wine Painting that Started an Artistic Wine Adventure

"Wine on the Vine" 28x22 acrylic©Sandi Whetzel
My wine odyssey emerged from my love of curvaceous lines and shapes. Early in my art career I was strongly attracted to curvilinear, graceful shapes and patterns in my sensuous flora subjects. After several years, I took a slight artistic detour when I entered a painting competition to promote the "Greatest of the Grape", a premiere wine event. They wanted a painting to illustrate the theme of "Wine on the Vine" and reflect the 'elegance of the evening'. To win, I knew I'd have to create a concept that said, "Wine on the Vine" better than any other. 

This painting challenge was pivotal. I had limited experience inventing paintings from my imagination and I had not painted anything related to wine. I started thinking about all things wine--grapevines, vineyards, wine bottles, goblets toasting, grapes, cheese wedges, finely set tables, formally attired maitre d's, etc. However, I was looking for an exceptional concept.

I honed in on the curvaceous shapes of wine bottles; thinking I might paint some abstracted wine bottles nestled among grapevines. I sketched five robustly curved wine bottles in a group of three and two others hanging from grapevine stems. The graceful bottles were placed at slightly different angles; gently swaying in the wind. More ideas for the concept presented themselves as I continued the sketch. When I was satisfied with the arrangement of the wine bottles, it suddenly occurred to me that I could add a big cluster of grapes growing inside each bottle; each cluster of a different hue. 

I gathered fallen, dried grape leaves to observe their wind-twisted shapes and vein patterns. I sketched many leaves before determining their arrangement in the painting. To reflect 'the elegance of the evening' , I was inspired to place a golden moon rendered in a pearly pigment with upraised texture in just the right spot above the grapevines. I chose to paint the glow of the moon radiating out in circular brush strokes of a blue evening sky. As I gathered dried grapevine tendrils for observation, I was fascinated with their twisting, winding structure. I strategically placed a few tendrils in the painting.

The ideas for the painting continued to flow as I got deeper into details of the painting. I added glistening highlights, colored reflections and shadows to the grapes, bottles and leaves to show the sparkle of moonlight and reveal form and transparency. The wind-blown grape leaves and the climbing tendrils, the angled placement of the bottles, all following the radiating pattern of the moonlit sky, created an elegant, rhythmic movement that was appealing to many viewers. 

The painting was a success because it came entirely from my imagination.  I devoted much thought to every element of the design to express "Wine on the Vine" as well as it could be stated.  This experience of creating something from my imagination to illustrate a predetermined theme was very rewarding.  It will always remind me of what can be when you trust your imagination to lead you in your creative endeavors.

The response to this first wine painting was so great that I was inspired to enter other competitions to promote wine and other events. Each competition resulted in paintings of subject matter that I might never have tackled without these challenges. The wine paintings were selling more than my other graceful subjects. Wineries and wine enthusiasts were popping up all over the Umpqua Valley in Oregon where I reside. Between wine events, I started dreaming up other ideas for wine paintings to fit my own wine themes of whimsy, or elegant celebration, or romantic fantasy. My wine odyssey continues.  For a slideshow of my wine series, click here

With each painting my goal is to outshine the previous one. I aim to impress and connect with wine enthusiasts emotionally. It's almost as if I am creating commercials for the wine industry. In my wine frame-of-mind, I ask myself, what feelings are associated with wine and how can I convey those feelings in ways that are exceptional? If I can add a romantic hook, all the better. My passion for curvy shapes easily creeps into graceful wine goblets and wine bottles and the things I associate with them. Bold, stimulating, eye-catching color and novel subject matter, fluid lines, movement and rhythm are all part of the design to draw the viewer into the wine odyssey experience. 

My wine series will be exhibited at the Umpqua Valley Wine, Art and Music Festival, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10 & 11, 2011 on the Umpqua Community College Campus, Roseburg, Oregon, exit 129 off I-5.  My booth is located across from the food court and at the rear of the entertainment seating.  Festival hours are Sat., from 11-9:30 pm and Sun., from 11-5:00 pm.  For a schedule of events, click here

No comments: