The Castle Art Group meets weekly in the Visual Arts Studio at Dudley's Castle High School. The members of the group are amateur artists who are encouraged to experiment in a wide range of media including drawing, painting and printmaking. Although for most it is purely a hobby, some members choose to follow a more formal path to gain qualifications such as GCSE and A level Art and Design.
Their exhibition is at The Portal until February 15 and features works ranging from large and striking floral studies to dainty watercolours of architecture and canal side scenes. Jess Harris' Peony (pictured above) and Veronica Price's Orange Wallflowers are inspired by the natural world, while Ann Shirley's Canal Bridge (below) and Dudley Castle are studies of local landmarks.
"We're so pleased to be able to display such beautiful works by a range of artists from the local Castle Art Group,"says Holly Wain, Heritage Activities Assistant at Dudley Canal Trust (Trips) Ltd. "These artists have captured natural and local scenes in such different styles and techniques that this exhibition has something to offer all of our visitors."
The second exhibition, by Brierley Hill-based artists, shows work in a range of media, including watercolour, acrylic and mixed media. It runs until March 5.
Artist Tim Nash has been exhibiting for 30 years and teaches seven art classes per week in watercolour, mixed media and acrylic. For this exhibition, Tim is displaying atmospheric and rich textured works in watercolour and mixed media of a range of landscapes including harbours, mountain scenes and countryside views.
As well as Tim's paintings the exhibition includes the work of Bev Challinor, Elaine Skidmore and Gail Belchamber who attend the Brierley Hill Neighbourhood Learning Centre where Tim teaches.
Bev began painting in 2013 and when she joined Tim's art class she began experimenting with her artwork, working mainly in watercolour, but also mixed media. She's now been bitten by the painting bug and says she enjoys the company of like-minded people. Bev's works in this exhibition include Cabin at the Waterside and Me and My Bird.
Elaine has been painting since 2008. She's a member of the Victory Painting Group and Brierley Hill District Art Society and attends Brierley Hill Neighbourhood Learning Centre. She has a passion for watercolour but paints in all mediums and takes inspiration from landscapes and animals. At The Portal exhibition Elaine's works take inspiration from nature with Red Berries and Poppy Field.
Gail has been painting since 2010 and is now deputy chairman of Wall Heath Art Club, and a member of Brierley Hill District Art Society and Hagley Art Club. Gail paints in all mediums but she loves watercolours, saying there's no place to hide any mistakes so it's an interesting and challenging medium. Gail's work is mainly focused on landscapes, but lately she has been painting animals and narrowboats. Gail is exhibiting a range of different works from woodland scenes and seaside cottages to bright and colourful birds such as peacocks and robins.
Says Holly Wain: "There is such a variety of scenes and techniques which are celebrated. We hope that this diversity might inspire visitors to give it a go themselves!"