Whimsical jewelry by Charmaine Harbort and vibrant oil paintings by Susan Hale are featured in an exhibit through March 30 at River Arts on Water Gallery, 590 Water St., Prairie du Sac.

Harbort is one of the gallery’s most long-standing artists. She began making jewelry in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she began exploring the possibilities of polymer clay. Now specializing in polymer jewelry, she has won several awards for her designs.

From mixing the colors to choosing a metal to add, Harbort has complete control over each piece. And, because of the nature of polymer clay, each of her pieces is truly unique.

“I have learned several techniques to get the most spectacular results,” Harbort said in her artist’s statement. “I hope the joy I get from making my jewelry is shared by the wearer!”

A lifelong lover of drawing and painting, Hale says color and pattern are an important aspect of her work. She loves to paint outdoors – plein-air – and has the constant inspiration of living in the Wisconsin countryside of Cedarburg to fuel her creatively. “Sketchbook diaries” of her travels across the world provide creative resources, as well.

Color is magic to her, she says, and she uses it lavishly, along with a sense of optimism. Like frosting on a cake, Hale applies her oil paint thick and luscious to create the energy and connection to nature she feels as she works. Her vibrant use of color is influenced by the French and German impressionists and the magical realism of Mexico.

“People ask me: ‘Do you really see all those colors in the landscape?’” Hale said in her artist’s statement. “‘Yes’, is my reply, ‘I just squint and use my imagination ... isn’t that what being an artist is all about?’”

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