The Gallery @ Barr Photographics will present its summer installment, “The Presence of Water,” a series of watercolor florals by Abingdon, Virginia, artist Thelma Blake, at an opening reception on Friday.

Reminiscent of Georgia O’Keeffe’s famous florals, the 37 watercolors in Blake’s “The Presence of Water” showcase rich detail and lively color. Blake uses an innovative glazing technique to preserve the colors in each of her works, which allows her to offer each piece at an affordable price by eliminating the need for framing. Blake has gained critical acclaim for her work throughout her career and has routinely helped share her techniques with rising art students.

Blake grew up in Washington County and graduated from Liberty Hall High School and later attended Emory & Henry College and the University of Texas. After touring the country with her husband, William Blake, as his career in radio broadcasting moved him from state to state, Blake returned to Washington County and led the art department at John S. Battle High School until her retirement in 2011.

“‘Art is a biological necessity,’” Blake says in her artist statement, quoting Hungarian artist Laszlo Moholy Nagy. “This is why I create art. … I am drawn to the media of watercolor for its fluidity on paper and the magical presence as it moves about on paper. Sometimes I force the paint to do what I want and see in my mind; other times I allow the paint to do what it wants to do, always watching for those ‘happy accidents’ to develop.”

The gallery’s opening on June 14 from 7-9 p.m. will include a live demonstration of technique from Blake and a public reception. The Gallery @ Barr Photographics is located at 152 E. Main St. in Abingdon. “The Presence of Water” will be on display from June 1 through July 31, and all works are available for sale. For more information, call 276-628-1486 or visit

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