I love to watch and then photograph artists at work. I usually have to schedule these types of photo shoots, but in the case of Loretta Puncer, all I had to do was to drop by her Gallery 510 (508 East Fifth Street) in Dayton’s Oregon District.
Entering the gallery, the front two thirds of the store is filled with paintings, photographs, jewelry, hand-dyed scarves, handbags, ceramics and more. In the distance you can see Loretta’s easel.
In the rear of the shop are tables, which can seat a dozen people. “I teach classes and workshops here,” Loretta told me. “I also teach at Rosewood Art Centre in Kettering.”
When I visited, Loretta was working on a painting for the Dayton Area Board of Realtors, which was due in just a few days. As I watched, Loretta was finishing up details of the Dayton skyline reflected in the river.
Loretta was working from reference photos she had taken and an enlarged image of the scene on her computer.
“I can enlarge the photo until it is exactly the same size as the part of the painting I am currently working on.”
I mentioned to Loretta that I thought it was unusual to see a Gallery owner painting as the shop was open.
“It doesn’t seem unusual to me. Maybe that’s because I’ve been doing this for the last eight years. I like painting when the shop is open. There are always slow times, and using that time to work on my paintings is efficient. And I think customers enjoy seeing me work.”
As I looked around the gallery I found works painted by Loretta in different styles and with different types of paint. I asked her about this.
“I teach in watercolors and acrylics. This painting I am working on now is oil. I am using oil because this is a big piece, with lots of blending. Oil dries slowly so I have time to do the blending.
“Many of my pieces in the shop are watercolors. I love the way colors mix when I am painting with watercolors and I use it as I do a lot of plein air painting in the summer. When the weather cools I paint here in the studio, either in oils or acrylics.
“My first love is realistic painting like the one I am doing here. 20 years of painting realistically has taught me a lot about color harmony and composition, which pushed me into experimenting with some abstract work over the last few years.
“Critics would say I should focus, but I have varied interests. Switching between oils, acrylics and watercolors, and between painting plein air and painting in the studio, and between abstracts and more realistic work, makes painting interesting and challenging for me.”
Before letting Loretta get back to her skyline painting I got her to pose for a portrait. Since she had seemed so intent in the photos I took of her while painting, I asked her to laugh for this shot. Then I photographed some of Loretta’s other paintings for sale at Gallery 510 as I left.