A common question asked of artists and writers is this: Where do you get your ideas?
It’s often impossible to answer, but it’s easier to answer this: Where do you get your strength? Your drive? Your confidence? For the fortunate, it is from a mentor.
The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is celebrating that relationship in a special show to open Jan. 23 called, “Artists and their Mentors.”
Two artists, Chet Amyx of Morro Bay and Elizabeth Tolley of Cayucos will show their work along with the work of their mentors, Amyx’s father, Leon Amyx, and Tolley’s most influential adviser, George Gibson.
For Chet Amyx, the influence began when he was born, as he was learning all of life’s first lessons. That is likely why so much of his work, like his father’s, has centered around watercolor landscapes.
In a SLOMA press release, Chet describes his memories of his childhood home stacked with unframed paintings from his father’s prolific work. Leon Amyx (1908-1995) was known for his California scenes — mostly from the Salinas Valley — in watercolor and passed on his artistic ways to his son during fishing and camping trips in Chet’s youth. Chet has moved from two to three dimensions in much of his art.
“As administrator of my father’s estate, I have many of his works in my studio,” Chet wrote in a press release. “I look at and study different pieces every day, so in a way, he is still mentoring me. Yet I also continue to go my own way as he wisely counseled me to do at the beginning of my art career.”
Painter Elizabeth “Libby” Tolley credits her mentor, Scottish watercolor painter George Gibson — a winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Watercolor Society — and his philosophy for having the greatest impact on her artistic work.
When she asked him for the key to staying fresh and in love with painting, he told her, “The secret is having a complete dedication to painting — not for creating masterpieces or winning awards, but just for the love of painting and the desire to paint.”
It seems that Tolley has taken that inspiration to heart as she paints her Central Coast landscapes.
“As a landscape painter, I seek to find the subtle nuances; the color, light and shapes that help create a sense of place,” Tolley said in her artist’s statement. “Capturing the mood and heartbeat of the land, as I experience it, is important to me.”