Home  ::  Gallery  ::  Purchase/Contact  ::  Events  ::  Resume  ::  Bio  ::  Links


Artist's Statement

My work is a joyful expression of my soul, plastered on the walls to excite you, calm you, soothe you and give you pleasure, as much as music and dance might; a refreshing walk through a colorful garden complete with creatures.

I began this directed focus on plants many years ago, getting intimately involved with every leaf and petal, every mysterious space, every shadow, every texture. I watch the way light splashes across the petals of a flower, or over the back of a caterpillar, or through the wings of a butterfly. Each step along my years of painting has changed my perspective or my colors but never my interest in the monumental aspects and forms of nature. I love the pattern of a butterflies wings or a fish or zebras stripes, or petals revolving around stamens and pistils. Instead of whole plants with many leaves or multiple blossoms as I have painted in the past, I have attempted to zoom in and bring a physical closeness to each flower, inviting you to hover over each one, descend into them, and examine each as an insect would. Not to be the insect, but to explore our shared ecosystem. Revisit the gifts we are surrounded with. Some seem like portraits, some seem like a visual terrain, inviting travel, all I hope radiate energy made visible. Hopefully they evoke some emotion.

In 1939, Georgia O’Keeffe wrote “ Everyone has many associations with a flower - the idea of flowers. You put out your hand to touch the flower, lean forward to smell it, maybe touch it with your lips almost without thinking - or give it to someone to please them. Still - in a way - nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small, we haven’t time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself I’ll paint what I see, what the flower is to me, but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it.”

I don’t pretend to have O’Keeffe’s daring or boldness, I’m really quite the opposite. Color plays a major role now in my paintings, bolder and brighter than ever before. Maybe that confidence to use it so freely comes with age, or experience, or just a devilish desire to give it a try.

I’m not a botanist, I only see and enjoy the forms, and try to capture the fragile image, making permanent the experience, conveying the experience through color. I can’t quote many scientific Latin names, describe the functions of all the plants parts, and I’m just an avid but not particularly knowledgeable gardener. The images I try to capture now exist without season, without wilt or decay, without a life cycle. Captured is the warm sunshine of spring returned or the smell of an opening rose, or the briefness of the lighting of a butterfly on a blossom. I’ve used a camera to capture the plants images, and even used photos taken by others, my sister and friends, and then cropped and manipulated the image captured to create a composition filling the paper to it’s boundaries and beyond. I’ve enlarged the forms, changed the colors, diverted the primary point of interest and viewed the images from many angles and perspective. I’ve taken parts from some photos and combined them with’s difficult to capture three butterflies in one place!

Some flowers are good humored, playful and smiling, while others are exotic and luscious. Inner beauty applies to flowers as well as humans. One is awed by their hues and the intricacy of their petals, by their delicacy, their almost synthetic perfection.

Texture and surface structure of flowers and leaves are important inspiration. Waxy shine of petals, ruffled edges of blossoms, wooly leaves, all attract my attention. The imagination leads to the creation of more than a brief glimpse into the reality of the flower, which changes and passes in a moment. New shapes, colours, and textures are coaxed from the natural. I tend to exaggerate and volumnize my subject matter into layers of petals, layer upon layer of softly veined, languorous, luscious, open, exposing the blossoms intimacy.

After thirty years of watercolor painting, I am still challenged
to find a fresh, mystical and musical expression of nature.

Educated at Denison University and the University of Charleston, Chilton has been a life long resident of Charleston (except for a short three year stay in Virginia). Her work has been exhibited in numerous one woman and group shows, including Chautauqua National Exhibition in New York, the Smithsonian Institutions Museum of American Art in DC, the West Virginia Juried Exhibition, and the Contemporary Arts Museum of Virginia. She is represented in many corporate and private collections. Chilton was chosen as WV Woman of the
Year in the Arts(2006), by the WV Woman’s Commission.

“For the past ten years I have been teaching myself oil painting, and have developed my own techniques to transfer my love of natural forms to canvas. I needed a new challenge!”