Dusti Bongé Gulf Coast foliage sketch

Artists are a function of their surroundings. Claude Monet painted Paris and its environs, then Giverny after moving there. Paul Cezanne’s returned to Mont Sainte-Victoire, which he could see from his home in Aix-in-Provence, throughout his career. Dusti Bongé painted the Gulf Coast.

In this installment of SeeGreatArt’s partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation, we have a sketch of the local area, Biloxi, MS for Dusti. Analysis of the artwork, as always, comes from Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer.

Dusti Bongé, Black Hardbound Artist Sketchbook – p.91 c. 1980, mixed media on paper, 8 1/4” x 5 1/4”

One of the perks of living here on the coast (Biloxi, MS) is that the climate and annual rainfall make for an exceedingly lush natural environment, albeit it a rather humid one, which brings with it some less desirable aspects (like mold on your shoes in the closet).

Mostly, though, the abundance of natural green is soothing, cooling, and, according to some psychological studies, even anxiety reducing.

Dusti Bongé lived surrounded by the rich array of vegetation that makes up the coast’s flora. Her immediate surroundings presented its full range from live oaks, to bamboo, to magnolias, to palm trees, to sunflowers, to banana trees and so on. This lush atmosphere permeated her everyday life.

As such, it inevitably influenced her art, especially with her studio having huge window walls looking out onto the yard. Here, the light streaming in was filtered through the soothing hues of the greenery outside.

This sketch, even though there is no color, nonetheless captures with a few simple lines and basic shading what that daily environment was like. The sketch appears layered.

First, outlined in pencil, one can see the broad long leaves of the banana tree and some vague structures in the background. Next, Dusti applied several swaths of charcoal across the page hinting at the patterns of light and shade coming through the tree canopy. Finally, the composition is topped those off with dark charcoal lines accenting some parts of the banana trees, outlining a somewhat spiky plant to the lower left, presumably a palmetto, and hinting at the foliage of the trees in the top right and left of the drawing.

This sketch, with minimal marks, thus shows the unique range of temperate to subtropical plants that flourish here.

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