Abandoning Form and
Embracing the Abstract
Peggy Vineyard explores the essence of painting
By Kathryn Manis
THE TERMS “nonrepresentational” and “nonobjective” refer to
works of art that either do not reference the material world in
a realistic way or are composed of the most basic and unique
components of their medium. In painting, this includes line,
color, and flatness; in sculpture, shape, texture, and material.
Art of this type requires a depth of skill that is not always
apparent to the untrained eye. Painters must first be experts
in the tenets of realism in order to effectively maintain balance, composition, and
mood while working outside the paradigm. As Roger Hilton, an English pioneer
of post-World War II abstract art, put it, “Abstract art is the result of an attempt to
make pictures more real, an attempt to come nearer to the essence of painting.”
For artist Peggy Vineyard, both her representational experiments and her cur-rent
nonobjective practice have received attention and acclaim.
When Vineyard moved to the Wilmington area from Houston in 2012, she
began a popular and prodigious series of paintings representing oysters. These
acrylic works, often in remarkably large scale, showcase oyster shells in their wide
variety of color, shape and texture.
“When I first started out, I had a fascination with oysters,” she says. “They are
very organized and beautiful, and their shapes enthralled me.”
While early paintings in this series were naturalistic, they became increasingly
abstract over time.
“The more I made them, the bigger and wilder I made them,” she says.
“Oyster Bright” features a realistically rendered half-shell, viewed from above.
Subtle shades of brown and gold showcase the fissures and grooves acquired over
time by sand and water. The canvas’ underpainting is a pearlescent swirl of pink,
blue and yellow, recalling the precious gemstone oysters create.
Later works like “Oyster Noir” and “My Blue Heaven” demonstrate Vineyard’s
edge toward the nonobjective. In the latter painting, Vineyard blurs the lines
between subject matter and background. Layers of paint are built up around the
central image of the shell in a way that recalls, but does not represent, the oyster
exterior. Curving, dripping lines accenting the backdrop are reminiscent of the
subject’s unique surface texture. The shining swirl of bright blues, purples, and
greens pooling in the bottom of the shell mimic water’s reflective capacity, and
the stark white of the inner shell blends deceptively with the background.
Oyster Noir II, 40 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas.
My Blue Heaven II, 25 x 33 inches, acrylic on paper.
Peggy Vineyard in her Wilmington studio with her submission for the Cameron
Art Museum’s State of the Art/Art of the State exhibit called Puttin’ on the Ritz,
48 x 52 inches, acrylic on canvas.
WBM november 2017