Natalya B. Parris's current show at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center (DVAEC) in Frederick is her second solo show of the year. She had one at Glenview Mansion in Rockville in February.
"Preparing and designing a solo show is a great responsibility since you represent yourself, your art, your view of the world," said Parris, of Gaithersburg, who is now a veteran of the local art scene..
The smallest details are up for consideration, such as ensuring that the titles make the connection between the artwork and the viewer and figuring out which pieces best complement one another.
She is a member of most area artists collectives, including the Gaithersburg Fine Arts Association, the Art League of Germantown and Women's Caucus for Art of Greater Washington, D.C. (WCA-DC), and participates in group and solo exhibits at least once a month. She also works three jobs: as a professional visual artist, an art instructor and City of Gaithersburg employee.
Her immediate responsibilities extend to volunteering as a curator on the Sandy Spring Museum Art Committee for the museum's upcoming WCA "View and Visions of the Environment" summer show.
According to Parris, the main challenge of being an artist and juggling multiple responsibilities is not overbooking exhibition schedules and allowing enough time to prepare new artwork.
While solo shows are what most artists strive toward because they provide maximum exposure and mark important milestones in an artist's career, Parris advises that group shows enable more frequent exposure in many different venues.
Applying to different venues comes with its own complications or perks.
"The venue also affects the process, because in some galleries you have to rent the space and that can be costly," explains Parris.
"The Delaplaine is a dream come true for any artist: it is a beautiful, modern art center with multiple galleries located in the heart of historic Frederick."
The arts center promotes upcoming exhibits directly through its website, quarterly print magazine, customized postcards and posters and through its online photostream - all for free.
Parris comes to painting from civil engineering. Her geometric and tightly rendered work and fascination with science and nature testifies to this background.
When she is not blending swirls of acrylic paint that mimick the properties of gemstones and minerals, she paints with dots, which bear their own creative and procedural challenges.
"One single mistake when you paint dots on paper can ruin the whole painting. You simply cannot fix the mistake," said Parris whose dots are perfect circles, often overlayed, and whose patterns overlap in complicated ways like the many paths her life has taken.
Once an engineer in Russia, she became an artist in the United States after starting a family. Her past often finds its way back into her artwork.
"My engineering background is most reflected in my recent artwork 'Striving for Light.' I had originally planned to paint a Russian Folk Art flower, but my hand proceeded to make an engineering drawing. This painting is a compromise between my engineering-mathematic left side of brain and romantic-artistic right side of the brain," said Parris.
Russian Folk Art, as exemplified in "The Tree of Life" and "Fluffy," which she painted for her daughter, is her latest inspiration.
Her retrospective solo show at DVAEC, "A Poem of My Soul in Paint," presents 21 acrylic and mixed media paintings and is on view through July 29 in the Gardiner Gallery.