Heather Sawtelle and Valerie Corvin

Scroll this

First appeared in the Piedmont Post.


At the opening for a show of their paintings, I had the chance to chat briefly with artists and Piedmont residents Heather Sawtelle and Valerie Corvin. They explained that they had encouraged one another to amp up their painting practice after they met through the SF Museum of Modern Art Council, the main fundraising auxiliary for the museum. They decided to meet once a month to critique one another’s work. After four or five months of spurring each other on, they put together a show at the Piedmont Center for the Arts. The work of these two friends is quite distinct—Corvin’s work is chiefly concerned with color, while Sawtelle’s is more about texture and layering. But, as Sawtelle noted, their brushwork and approach to imagery is in some ways similar. Together the paintings hanging in the main gallery make a very satisfying complement—Corvin’s colors are bright and radiate light, while Sawtelle’s predominantly black and white pieces more directly explore shadow and contrast. Corvin noted that she was inspired directly by the land around her, particularly by a tree she saw while on a yoga retreat, and her sense of color reflects her interest in nature, albeit clearly through her own experience. Sawtelle is also working to express her internal state on the canvas. The result is that viewers can enjoy and bring their own interpretation to these paintings. One viewer told Sawtelle that she had two of her titles “all wrong.” Actually, that’s a great sign. If your artwork is inspiring strong opinions, you’re doing something right. For a nice dose of color, shape, texture and a sense of the many plastic possibilities of paint, check out this show at the Piedmont Center for the Arts.