Developing stories: These Cape Cod artists are just beginning their journey
Fisherman’s daughter captures marine life on the canvas
Painter Leah Bares has been working with watercolors for the past two years in what she calls “negative white space,” referring to the way her subjects stand alone on the canvas. “The white background allows them to pop off the page,” she says. Thus, the artist’s depictions of a man o’ war jellyfish, an octopus and a seahorse appear suspended, clean, almost surreal in their brilliance.
A Plymouth resident, who took after-school art classes from age 8 to 18, Bares graduated from the UMass Dartmouth Law School in 2013, and then took a job at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. It was in her third year of law school that she rediscovered her true passion. The epiphany struck after she painted a portrait of Bean, her cousin’s pug. “I’m pretty sure I cried in joy,” she recalls. “It had been seven or eight years since I’d painted anything.”
Bares opened Violette Tide Studios in 2015, and the company has seen rapid development. In addition to her original watercolor paintings and giclee prints, some clients have commissioned Bares to recreate her artwork in mosaics and on their kitchen backsplashes. “This has been a new challenge,” she says, “and I’m pleased with the results—as are the homeowners who have my lobster or turtle in their kitchen.”
The inspiration for Bares’ nautical artwork comes from experiences she had working aboard her father’s fishing boat. “My dad likes to brag that I’ve caught more fish than some of the most seasoned outdoorsmen,” she says. It’s no wonder that her paintings of sharks and whales are so true to life. Currently, she’s working on a series of paintings of saltwater fish, including striped bass, summer flounder, black sea bass and scup.
She says her greatest obstacle is time. “I’m a full-time mom,” Bares says, “and I’m managing the online shop, painting commissions and keeping up with a fresh portfolio. Sometimes I have to reel myself in, although I am open to growth and new challenges.”
More of Leah Bares’ artwork can be seen at violettetidestudios.com
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