The ability to paint light and shadows is a real talent. I happened to come across Lu Bentley’s Facebook page and was impressed with that gift she possesses.
A native of Detroit, she tired of the cold, snowy winters and ventured to sunny South Carolina. With a degree in agriculture and landscape design, Lu has been painting for decades now while still running her landscaping company with her husband, Eden Landscaping LLC.
Like fellow local artist Christine Crosby whom I profiled back on July 3, Lu Bentley’s work can be found online as well as at the Studio 151 Fine Arts Gallery on Church Street in downtown Charleston.
Both Lu and her mother’s favorite painting by Lu is entitled “Moonlight” featured in her July newsletter online: https://lubentley.com/nl/?nid=141032 &type=html.
Regan: When did you know you could paint? You were self-taught. Were you inspired by certain artists?
Bentley: I guess my Dad inspired me. When I was a little girl getting fidgety in church, he would draw animals, bunnies and such on the program to keep me occupied. I was fascinated. Drawing what I saw, with pencil on paper, was my focus until the age of 25 when I began to explore color.
R: You started out as a traditional painter. How do you feel your art has evolved over time in what you focus on and emphasize in your creations?
B: I found that my transition came naturally, possibly in response to the marvelous, strong, southern sunlight that I worked in every day. My interest in high contrast and shadows, along with my unique perspective, made itself evident and I really loved painting even more.
R: Your artwork has won awards and/or honorable mentions in the past?
B: My awards have been: 2015 Best in Show, Summerville Artist Guild Judged Exhibition; 2007 Merit Award, Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit. I have won over 30 awards since 1986, but I have not entered any competitions in recent years.
R: You paint a range of subjects from palm trees to architecture to plants and flowers, etc. What’s your favorite and why?
B: Maybe it was all the years of landscape design, but I enjoy the melding of man with nature. Buildings have their
hard-edged structure and then you have all forms of plant material, with their different structures which soften, compliment, and enhance the environment. Oftentimes, when I focus on the flower in a painting, it is shadowed against an implied building. I love my shadows!
R: Were you a past artist at the Art Central cooperative? Tell us about the 2 art galleries where your art is available. Can people order your artwork online?
B: I was one of the founding members of Art Central Gallery that just moved to Nexton and my work was featured there for 17 years. Currently, I am showing my work at Studio 151 Fine Art Gallery in Charleston. I have my own website, have a store on Etsy.com and am now on Instagram, in addition to Facebook.
R: Do you teach art or mentored anyone about your technique? Acrylic on canvass is your preferred medium although you used to paint in oil and watercolor?
B: I have taught acrylic workshops through the Summerville Artist Guild of which I have been a member for years and hope to do so again. I would like to find a location for regular classes focusing on the handling of the paint and giving the student the freedom to create their own style in acrylic or watercolor. My monthly email newsletter shows my development process for anyone that is interested.
R: Do you plan to have any special exhibits or tables at any fairs (like the 8th Annual Sweet Tea Festival on Sat., 9/21)?
B: The Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit in Charleston is the only show in which I participate. I have enough going on to keep myself very busy.
Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.