Local Talent Showcased At Fall Show, Sale This Weekend

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As you might expect, local artist Ruth Overton is a strong advocate for original art as an element of home decor.

"If you've seen a print and then seen the original, there is all the difference in the world," she said. "Somehow a piece of art just has a personality that you simply cannot get in a picture.

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Frames make a big difference, Ruth Overton says. The Payson artist makes her point by holding a different frame over one of her still lifes.

"It's like when you go to a museum and see the old masters. You just stand there awestruck at the way they put the paint on. I've seen those photos of their work, but to see the original is just all the difference in the world."

With the Payson Art League's Fall Art Show coming up this weekend, Overton provided some guidelines for novice art buyers.

First, she advises against selecting art because the colors match your furnishings.

"A lot of people do," Overton said. "I've even had people bring their color swatches in.

"But colors very seldom clash, so you should just pick out something that you really like. I put all kinds of colors together."

The same is true of framing -- almost.

"If you have a cabin you're probably not going to hang something with a gold ornate frame on it," she said.

But Overton prefers that her paintings stay in the frames she puts them in.

"Sometimes people want to know how much something would be without the frame," she said. "I'm always a little hesitant because if they're going to stick a cheap frame on it, they can ruin the artwork. A frame changes the personality of the painting."

A better reason to buy a painting is because of the tone or mood it projects.

"People will come to me because they want something very peaceful," she said. "Their lives are busy and in turmoil and they are looking for something that is very restful. But in another room they may want something that is very exciting.

"My paintings are all very peaceful; I don't use very strong colors."

While she used to do "almost everything" but pastels, Overton has settled on oils.

Her landscape paintings are based on photographs she has taken.

"I have files and files and files of photographs," she said. "I take lots of photographs, and then I arrange them and put them together. I probably use anywhere from three to eight photographs in a painting."

Overton, who retired to Payson from Kansas City, Mo. in 1998, also does still lifes and florals.

"I raise flowers and when each one is in bloom I say, "That's the prettiest thing I've ever seen," she said. "As they bloom, I usually bring them in and set them up."

Florals are especially popular.

"Flowers bloom and then they're gone, and they like the idea of having a flower picture they can look at all year long and appreciate," she said.

Overton had a large studio and gallery for many years in Kansas City, but now that she's retired she spends even more time painting.

"I paint longer days than I did when I worked," she said. "I keep two or three going at a time, and I probably average one painting a week."

She began painting in 1957.

"Jack Wilson, who used to be pastor at the Episcopal church here in Payson, was also our pastor in Kansas City, and his wife Betty came to me after we joined the church and asked me to go to art classes with her," she said. "I said, ‘I've never painted. I can't draw a straight line.' She said, ‘How about just coming with me.'"

The rest, as they say, is history, but because of her own experience, she believes anyone can learn to paint.

"I taught for 19 years, and I never found anyone I couldn't teach to paint," she said. "Each one of us has God-given talents that we don't ever develop.

"It makes me so angry when I find an adult who says, ‘Oh, back in high school or grade school, they told me to go take another class -- that I'd never be able to do anything with my art.' That's a poor teacher."

Overton believes the Payson art community -- most of whom will be represented in the PAL show -- is the most talented she has ever been associated with.

"We've got better artists here than Sedona, than all the art communities," she said. "We have topnotch artists.

"I've never seen such a talented group of people, and it's a wonderful group. They're not jealous of one another. They're encouraging, and so willing to share anything they know."

For that reason, Overton encourages people to ask questions and solicit advice regarding the purchase of artwork.

"People should ask the artist," she said. "I don't know how many times I've gone over to people's houses.

"They want to know where they ought to put it or how they should hang it.

"All artists want to know their work is going to be appreciated, so they're glad to do that."

But the bottom line is to trust your own instincts.

"People should not be afraid to express themselves through the selection of art," she said.

The show

The Payson Art League's Fall Art Show runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 at the Tonto Apache Tribe's activity center, south of the casino. A special artists' preview will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5. A $5 donation is requested for the Friday preview, but there is no charge for Saturday or Sunday. Raffle proceeds benefit art education in local schools.

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