Cynthia Blair in front of her gallery at the North Road Library. Sponsored by the Conanicut Island Art Association, the exhibit of mostly pastel paintings will remain suspended until March.

A freelance artist whose work includes poster designs for the Jamestown Community Theater showcases the other side of her talents.

Cynthia Blair is presented by the Conanicut Island Art Association in the lobby of the North Road Library until April 4. Although she also works in oil, acrylic and digital art, the exhibition focuses on her pastel paintings.

“I loved using soft pastels,” Blair said. “The colors are so sumptuous.”

Jillian Barber, who curates the exhibits for the art association, asked Blair for spring pieces to complement the weather. In response, Blair decided pastels would be the best way to accent the season.

Blair said she had been an artist for as long as she could hold a pencil. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a bachelor’s degree in illustration.

“It was fun to create from the imagination,” she said. “The more you practice something, the better you get.”

After graduating, she returned to school to take continuing education courses to learn digital art programming, including Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and InDesign. Over the years, digital painting has become more sophisticated and intuitive, with tablets and styluses capable of simulating pencil on paper. Although there is a big difference between painting with a brush and creating art on a computer, Blair said the feeling of her work remains the same in both mediums.

“Whether it’s pencils and brushes or digital software, it’s all part of your toolbox to help you create your art,” she said. “Art is communication. Express your unique voice. Whatever tools work for you, great. Use them.

Among the digital artworks created by Blair are posters for the Jamestown Community Theater. She created images for “Pippin” in 2017, “An Evening with Frog and Toad” in 2018 “The Music Man” in 2019 and the production of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” which was canceled due to the COVID pandemic -19 in 2020 She also created album covers for Jamestown musician Brenda Bennett, who was a member of Prince’s band Vanity 6.

Blair said she decides whether a painting will be done traditionally or digitally depending on the subject matter. For example, when asked by the theater to create a poster for their 2012 production of “Once Upon a Mattress” in a style similar to early 20th century illustrator Maxfield Parrish, Blair decided to create a painting using oil as opposed to digital art.

“If I know what my subject is, I will decide which tool or tools are the best choice,” she said.

The time Blair takes to create a digital painting depends on the size, subject and level of detail. She said another factor is whether she’s thought about what she wants the end result of the painting to look like.

“It’s common for me to refine ideas once I get to work,” she said.

Subjects in his gallery at the library include images of children playing in the summer. Some of the more recent paintings in the exhibition are not pastel; these are acrylic paintings of small birds on illustration board.

In addition to a handful of awards given to Blair by her hometown art association, she has been recognized by the Connecticut Pastel Society, Wickford Art Association, Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, and Rhode Island School of Design Museum.

Blair said she hopes visitors who view her work will take away “a glimpse of everyday joy in simple things”.


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