Art Takes Center Stage At First Friday Event


August's Artists of the Rim First Friday features painter Donn Morris, scratchboard artist Angie Cockle, and photographer Glenn Smith.

The Aug. 1. event starts at 5 p.m. and lasts until 8 p.m. along Main Street in Payson.


Donn Morris is one of the artist featured at the Artists of the Rim Gallery's First Friday event.

Morris travels widely, photographing images then recreating them in watercolor, mostly.

"When I first came to Payson, my interest was to be a western artist," Morris said. That included cowboys, rodeos and powwows.

After visiting countries including Cambodia, India and Peru, the people and vistas of those places filtered into his art through his camera lens.

One scene from India features a row of people wearing colorful turbans with their backs facing the viewer, behind whom camels stand.

Another image portrays an elephant with designs painted on its trunk, tourists on its back.

The challenge of watercolor attracts him to it. "It's a very challenging medium. But after a number of years working with it, I'm comfortable that I can achieve the things I'm setting out to do," Morris said.

"You can't make a mistake. If you make a mistake with pastel, you can go over it." Not so with watercolor. It demands perfection.

"I don't suffer for my art. I'm a very happy person," Morris said. He's happily married, had a fulfilling career teaching high school art, and now travels and paints the world.

Photographer Glenn Smith also seeks perfection. Out of every 100 photographs shot, Smith chooses just four or five. For the majority of photographs, "when you really look at them, they're just that. A photograph."

In a picture, with the periphery removed, the "pop" of an object depends upon adept shooting. The composition, color, shutter speed and depth of field can combine to produce an average shot or something extraordinary.

"Anybody can take pictures, but it's what you take out of a picture," Smith said.

Chance encounters of a dewdrop on a rose illustrate the importance of impeccable timing, but for photographers, much of timing is waiting. "I've stood for two hours, an hour-and-a-half, waiting for the sun to set." He shoots mostly landscapes and flowers.

Smith notes that photographers often scope their spots mid-day and return during the early morning or early evening when the light is best for shooting.

When working a photograph's colors by computer, Smith attempts to impart into the picture whatever the camera lost. "What you see in your mind's eye, the camera can't reproduce."

Scratchboard artist Angie Cockle also dedicates patience to her craft. With scratchboard, Cockle uses a knife to scrape images into existence on hardboard covered with ink and clay. She usually creates animals -- one hair at a time. After the image is completed, she paints, then varnishes it.

"When I did this I was so impressed with it," Cockle said. Much of her work is request-based. Often people who have lost a pet ask that Cockle re-create him or her on scratchboard. She starts with a photograph.

Mick, Cockle's husband, says Cockle has the inexplicable ability to scratch life into an animal's eyes.

"I can spend probably a whole day on a set of eyes," Cockle said.

Though all three artists start with a photograph, each uses the medium to achieve his or her own end. For Morris the painter or Cockle the scratchboarder, the photograph provides a starting point, an assistance with memory. For Smith, it's the perfection of the shot itself that he finds enjoyable.

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