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When you cannot be outdoors, a good alternative is gazing at a piece of fine art that captures the "feel" and mood and sensations of the outdoors.
Enter Bowling Green painter Tamara Monk, whose work fulfills the aforementioned qualities and which, in many paintings, captures scenes of natural life of northwest Ohio.
A representative sample of Monk's work is on exhibit this month at Hudson Gallery, 5645 North Main. St., Sylvania. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
You can feel, for example, the dryness and smell the dustiness in the air of Monk's rendering in oil of the Maumee River near Waterville in the low flow of early autumn.
Her rendering of a remnant of the Great Black Swamp all but exudes grayness of a swamp forest and the odor of black muck and the feel of dampness. Monk and her husband, Tom Hilty, have a cabin in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, thus her canvas of Silver Lake Falls captures the mood and feel of a classic, boggy-banked, deep-forest trout water.
Monk, an adjunct art professor at Bowling Green State University and part-time instructor at Lourdes College in Sylvania, often does studies of natural objects, such as a unique stump, at Wintergarden/St. John's Woods Preserve, just a couple of blocks from her Bowling Green home.
"I have an intense curiosity of the environment I inhabit," Monk notes. "I am continually struck by the colors, patterns, and relationships which life creates right before our eyes."
The artist adds that subjects right here in northwest Ohio continue to catch her eye. "I plan on continuing that investigation. There are lots of wildlife and lots of woods."
Adds Scott Hudson of the gallery, "it's a wonderful looking body of work." A trout fisherman who himself prowls the U.P., Hudson recently encouraged Monk and Hilty to try using float-tubes for their fishing. "Only wish I could be there the first time they enter at the water's edge."
In related news, Toledo's Lily Spang, 16, has repeated as winner of the annual Ohio Junior Duck Stamp art competition, this year with a finely detailed rendering of a drake wood duck.
Her acrylic rendering of a drake hooded merganser a year ago finished in the top 10 in judging for the national junior duck stamp competition after winning the Ohio round of judging. Lily is the daughter of Jonathan "Mark" and Sandra Spang. She and her brother, Eli, 14, another budding wildlife artist, are home-schooled.
The teen artist's wood duck drake, as best of show among hundreds of entries statewide, goes on as Ohio's best-of-show to the 2009 national competition. Her painting was the unanimous top choice of the panel in the judging, held at the recent 32nd annual Ohio Decoy Carvers and Collectors Show at Westlake, Ohio.
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