"Pearl" Watercolor Painting

"Pearl" Watercolor Painting

In "Pearl," an oyster shucker in Urbanna, Va., stands before her work wearing a pearl necklace. Between her bold smile and her fancy necklace, you sense she will not be denied the finer fruits of her labors. She looks like a survivor who would carry on should she lose her job.

Here, Whyte used a muted palette and drybrush surface textures reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth. As it happens, the Greenville museum has strong holdings in Wyeth art.

Her "Beekeeper's Daughter," however, places a female beekeeper in a garden setting. The effect suggests romantic compositions - again, from more than a century ago - such as a famous one of two girls in a garden lighting Chinese lanterns, by John Singer Sargent, an artist who has inspired thousands of watercolorists since his time.

With this series, Whyte spoke eloquently on behalf of these heroic workers in vanishing industries. Her labors did not save these people's jobs, but it rescued them from invisibility.

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