Photographers, painters team up for 'Side by Side' exhibit at SoBA in Bluffton

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comApril 25, 2013 

"Peachy Keen," by Michele Maffei


    "Side by Side" will be on display through May 4 at the Society of Bluffton Artists gallery at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets in Old Town Bluffton. Details:

Many painters work directly from photographs, re-creating an image captured on film. But rarely does anyone other than the artist get to see the photograph that served as inspiration.

The Society of Bluffton Artists' "Side by Side" show paired photographers and painters to do just that. The artists teamed up, creating paintings that mirrored selected photographs.

Hilton Head Island artist Michele Maffei won Best in Show for "Peachy Keen." The oil painting was based on a photograph by friend Jeanie Hooper, taken at a local produce stand last summer.

The exhibit will run through May 4 at the gallery.

Maffei, a former New Jersey resident, explains why peaches sparked her creativity.

Question. What was it about the photo that captured your interest?

Answer. I saw the photo and said, "Wow." It just did something for me. It was different. It was a large photo. It was a common element but uncommon in how the peaches were arranged in the box. It captured my eye.

I talked to Jeanie, and we ended up entering. It was a lot of fun to participate. Low and behold, my painting won.

Q. Do you often work from photographs?

A. Some of the work I do is from photographs I take. But if I'm doing a still life, I set that up. I have painted plein air some. But in this case, I think all the fine artists used their interpretation of what they saw in the photograph.

Q. How long have you been painting?

A. I've been painting for the past 13 years. ... Some people have referred to me as a semi-surrealist. I don't know why. I'm still trying to figure that one out (laughs). I'm probably the most comfortable painting a still life or painting women's faces. With the faces, they're not portraits. They're different. Sometimes, I'll just take a picture of a family member and I'll use my imagination from there. I'll say, "Don't worry, it won't really look like you. I just need the contours of your face."


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