Visions of Fireflies
Alabama artist Starr Weems paints images inspired by her Alabama childhood.
by Carol Marks
Starr Weems is an artist whose work reflects the magic of summertime. Her home state of Alabama is never far from her mind either. “The stork dropped me off at Helen Keller Hospital in Tuscumbia, and it stuck. I have lived in and traveled to other places around the world, but I always come back to Alabama,” she says.
Completing her master’s degree at Auburn University, Weems first started her studies at Belmont in Nashville and finished up at University of North Alabama.
For a long time, Weems says her work was split into two divisions: one body of work that was very realistic and technique-driven and the other more dreamlike and concept-driven. Over the years, the two began to merge into one style. “Now, I often paint images inspired by memories of childhood in Alabama – Mason jars sparkling with fireflies, sweetgum balls and flickering firelight,” she says.
In the beginning of her career, Weems chose to work exclusively in charcoal, but she became hooked on the process of watercolor pouring. “It’s not a traditional painting process at all. It is simultaneously meticulous and spontaneous,” she explains. Pouring involves coating the paper with drawing gum in certain areas and then spilling the paint on top, tilting the piece this way and that way to guide the color. The layers of transparent color overlap and mingle, providing a depth and glow that isn’t possible by other methods.
The technique is especially visible in Weems’ Night Lights series, which includes those sparkling fireflies and other works with titles like “Summers End” and “Sandman’s Visit.” Purchase items from this series and more here.
See Weems’ work in 2014 at solo exhibits in her home state, including the Birmingham Public Library from February 14-April 11 in the fourth floor gallery and Lowe Mill in Huntsville, Alabama, from July 1-August 30.
Living in Huntsville, Alabama, Carol Marks is The Girl Gadabout, where she writes about local flavor in the 256 area code of Alabama. She’s been published in Southern Family and Huntsville EVENT Magazine and has written reviews for Dew On The Kudzu. Carol is also working on a novel. Follow her on Twitter @girlgadabout.