Collaboration between local artists Karen Savory and Hannah Spencer Fast is resulting in a two-woman show called “Kindred Spirits” at Art Focus Fine Art & Custom Framing in Hamilton this April, beginning with an artist’s reception on Friday.
Woodblock artist Spencer Fast and watercolor artist Savory said the idea for cooperation was planted over 10 years ago when the two artists were in a watercolor class where they often swapped paintings midway through to add each artist’s style to the other’s work.
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“We thought it was so cool,” Spencer Fast said. “It’s not my art, it is our art. It got you out of your own box for your imagination. For years we worked toward figuring out how to collaborate.”
They decided that with their two-woman show at Art Focus coming up they would work on a big project together.
Spencer Fast’s woodblock style and Savory’s watercolor style work well together.
Their big project “For the Love of Honey” turned out to be a large three-dimensional watercolor on canvas with over seven layers of inspiration and talent.
Savory said the picture is full of meaning.
“It brought joy to us doing it, in this horrible time of worldly events,” she said. “But we also hope it gives other people joy. Even more importantly, it is an ode to bees and we need protect [them].”
Spencer Fast added that it is a reminder to protect the environment, the animals and the “full circle of what the bees do.”
“It is like joyful art with a purpose,” she said. “We are trying to bring awareness of the honeybee to this piece, how everything is connected. We need all the pieces to make it all work.”
Savory noted that the painting project reflects the artists’ lives.
“Not only did Hannah and I work together on the project but [the animals in the painting] are working together,” she said. “We need to come together [to solve] food problems and if honeybees go away, we have a huge problem. Bees are pretty spectacular. Without them, our food systems would go away and we would go away.”
Spencer Fast is also a beekeeper.
“I’m always blown away that one honeybee in its lifetime makes a half-teaspoon of honey,” she said. “I think of that every time I get five gallons of honey from my bees. I think ‘one honeybee just added one half-teaspoon to that effort.’”
The artists’ talents with two distinct styles complement and inspire each other for a great blend.
“That was a really fun part of this,” Savory said. “I got to see Hannah a lot more and it was so fun to work with someone else. Even as I was drawing it, Hannah was sitting over my shoulder and she would suggest, ‘put a bear in a tree' or 'we need a fox’ and then she said, ‘stick the tongue out of the bear’s mouth’ which is something I wouldn’t normally do.”
The artists and longtime friends are looking forward to more collaboration in the future and said “For the Love of Honey” is just the first of a series.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Spencer Fast said.
“We hope to make lots more of them,” Savory said.
The artist reception for Karen Savory and Hannah Spencer Fast is from 5-7 p.m. at Art Focus Fine Art & Custom Framing, 215 W. Main St., on April 1, April Fool’s Day.
“But don’t be fooled by it,” Savory said. “Come anyway, we’ll be here. Please come see us.”
In addition to “For the Love of Honey” the artists have a second collaborative piece called “High Country Happiness,” about one-fourth of the size of the big work. Plus, they will each have many individual pieces in their own styles.
Spencer Fast creates colorful hand-painted folk art-inspired woodblock prints using dark bold lines contrasted with joyful colors. Savory makes playful, bright and whimsical watercolor paintings using vivid colors and a big imagination. Her work expresses contented happiness when good friends gather, inner spirits soar and hearts become full.
Together, their April show at Art Focus Fine Art & Custom Framing celebrates the beautiful bond between “Kindred Spirits.”