Artist Barbara Fox is known for her amazing, lifelike watercolors and coin face designs she has created for the U.S. Mint, and she’s added another medium to her lineup.
Fox’s innate talent with a brush now extends beyond watercolor paints to oils on canvas to translate her lifelike images. But the new medium came with a few challenges that couldn’t easily be remedied in her home studio.
Oil paints require longer drying times and require proper ventilation, which recently lead Fox to open a working studio and gallery at 42 Mill St. in Ellicottville.
“I needed a larger space to work on larger paintings. And I didn’t like the odors of oil paints and their related solvents in my home,” said Fox. “I’d painted there last year, and knew it was a pleasant and comfortable space to work, and easily accessible for visitors.”
In addition to providing a wonderful gallery space for Fox’s paintings and prints, the Mill Street Studio & Gallery provides much needed work space. Fox’s son, Trevor Brachmann, creates fantastic gemstone jewelry and displays his pieces there as well.
The gallery also houses weaver Jennie Acklin’s large loom, which she and spinner/weaver Annie Widger use to create beautiful fiber art, as well as Widger’s spinning wheel.
A photography major in college, Widger has always been a visual person. When she saw a spinning demonstration by the Enchanted Mountain Weavers Guild at the county fair about seven years ago, she said her “inner artist was recharged.”
“I saw a spinning demonstration and was hooked. I signed up for spinning classes with Regina Van Scoy from Limestone and … now I am a spinner,” she said.
But you can only spin so much yarn before it begs to be turned into something beautiful, so the next natural step was to purchase a loom and begin weaving.
“Anything that can be created from nature intrigues me. As a farmer and animal lover, I love the idea of incorporating fiber and hair into art,” said Widger.
Learning to weave had been on Acklin’s bucket list for a long time. After buying a Swedish countermarche loom, she realized lessons were in order and began apprenticing under the teaching talents of Austrian Annette Graener, a staff weaver at a Denver gallery. Now, Acklin’s loom also lives at the studio. Its large footprint allows her to weave larger pieces like blankets and rugs.
“I especially like weaving saddle blankets. I will have some scarves and some smaller wall hangings, but mostly blankets for sale,” said Acklin. “Currently on the loom is an Irish wool and cashmere blanket in creams, greens and blues. The fiber for this was brought back from Ireland on one of Bob McCarthy’s numerous trips.”
If you stop in at the gallery Thursday through Sunday, noon – 5 p.m., and you will surely catch one of these talented artists in action.
Fox said, “I love the idea that this is a working studio. It is about our hard work and creative process, not just the product, as in most galleries and shops. Visitors can see us at work and see our pieces in various stages of completion.”
Visit the studio’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MillStreetArtGallery, read Fox’s painting blog at www.barbarafoxwatercolors.blogspot.com and demonstration blog at www.barbarafoxstudio.blogspot