January 29th 2008, Tuesday, Eastern Daily Press: Leading us to local scenes through her eyes


Though an abstract painter, Rhonda Whitehead looks on nature with affection, rejoicing in its rich diversity. She does not reduce what she sees to an austere geometry of straight lines and clashing contrasts. Instead, she enjoys subtle patterns and brings out their individuality in a style capturing the pleasure of a peaceful moment of reflection in the countryside.

She is at her best in more subdued colours. One series of oil paintings captures the fleeting beauty of light on water. We, are as it were, invited to look down on the surface, smooth except for a few gentle ripples and some hint of floating vegetation. Without realistic detail, the impression is both convincing and charming.
Similar themes come across in delicate more complex watercolours that explicitly refer to the Broads. Whether or not the topographical link is visible, mentioning the source of inspiration adds a human touch.

It is a reminder that the painter does not want to take us away from the local scene. She would rather lead us to see it through her eyes.

She does that too with her studies of old buildings, where manmade structures offer new visual stimuli when they are merging into nature as their walls shale and decay. A tiny square canvas that would fit into any home puts new life into the evocative name of Venice. The main colour is a rich ochre, set off with a grey perpendicular down the right hand side. What adds impact, not to say shock, is a jagged shape in bright white. Something, somebody is intervening and spoiling time’s handiwork.