Walls Talk: Depth of Feeling

Laura Whitesides Host’s connection to water runs deep — in her life and in her art. Considering her background, it’s no surprise.

“I grew up in Grand Haven, so part of the imprint in my brain is Lake Michigan and the horizon,” she says. “It’s always had a calming feeling to me.”

Although this water-media painting, Dune Scape (30-by-38 inches, framed) wasn’t painted on the beach, Host, who now lives in Birmingham, says the idea came “mostly from my head, and all the memories of looking out to the lake.”

Watercolor attracts her, but Host doesn’t consider herself a traditionalist in that medium.

“I’m kind of an experimental watercolorist,” she explains. “When I describe my works as water media, it’s because I’ll mix all kinds of things with water.

“I like to do underpaintings and then put watercolor on top. I’ll paint a canvas first with gesso, and I use a lot of fluid acrylics, which behave like watercolors. I also love watercolor pencils and crayons.”

Host, who has taught since 1993 at “my second home,” the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (BBAC), also delights in making monotypes, which she calls “painterly printmaking.”

Her method involves painting on a Plexiglas plate with watercolor or some other medium. Then it goes to a printing press.

“They’re one of a kind, so I’m not making editions,” she says. And although she has made many monotypes, the process continues to enchant the artist.

“I love painting on a plate and putting it through the press and opening it up,” she says. “It’s like having your birthday every day.”

Host’s solo show at the Lawrence Street Gallery, 22620 Woodward, Ferndale, runs through June 25; 248-544-0394, lawrencestreetgallery.com. Dune Scape will be included in the exhibit. More art: laurawhitesideshost.com.

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