By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
The landscapes in Dot Courson’s paintings work a bit of magic on those who view them.
The Southern hills and fields feel familiar – an old barn or a patch of trees passed by on the way to town, maybe – but also a bit mystical, like they’re from a different time or place.
That’s a compliment Courson has heard often.
“People tell me that all the time, that they’ve been to the places I’ve painted,” she said. Chances are they haven’t, but her paintings make the viewer feel like they’re there, in a cotton field, near an old church, on a country road. Many of the places she paints are real, but a few of them she dreams up. Either way, she has to be there, in her mind, before she can commit the place and atmosphere to canvas – and take her audience with her.
“You have to feel that you’re there when you’re painting that – feel it, smell it,” she said.
Back and forth
Courson’s work ranges from realism to impressionism, and it’s in her impressionistic landscapes where she shines. Her brush strokes are bewitchingly blurry, yet specific.
“You’ve got to know what it looks like up close and far away,” she said. “The whole time I’m painting, I’m (walking) back and forth, back and forth. I wear out the rug.”
Even in her still life paintings, she’s trying to achieve a certain mood.
“You’re painting the atmosphere as much as you’re painting anything else,” she said.
Courson, now based out of Pontotoc, was a nurse and health care administrator for years before she chased her dream of becoming a full-time artist. She studied under artists such as Billy Kirk, Kim English and David Leffel, and found her own vision for her work.
She borrows a phrase from another artist: It’s her “visual music.”
“When you’re painting, there’s a rhythm to the place,” she said. “It’s the theme song to my life.”
She’s passing on her love for art to her family, including her daughter, Susan Patton, who also paints, and her granddaughter, 11-year-old Faith, who helps make her paintings even better, she said.
Courson also hosts art workshops. Her next is with painter Anne Blair Brown in Pontotoc on April 19 through 21. In addition to her exhibit at Caron| Prince Art Gallery, she’ll have shows in Richmond, Va., and Jacksonville, Fla., and her work will be published in an art book published by North Light Books in the fall.
“I’ve told my kids, if anything happens to me, I’ve had my dream come true,” she said. “I feel like I’m doing what I was put on this earth to do.”