The Dead Sea at Sweimeh, Jordan.
She sold her first oil painting at age 15 and has run her Harbor Springs gallery since age 19, but Trisha Witty, 36, took a break from the tranquil life on Little Traverse Bay for a painting/research excursion to the Middle East this winter. The stark terrain and gradations of earth tones in Dubai, Oman, Jordan and Syria presented a new challenge for an artist who cut her teeth on detailed, lush Northern Michigan landscape paintings that teeter between impressionism and realism.
The resulting out-of-her-comfort-zone works are intriquingly refreshing and resonant. Some of Witty’s standout moments on the trip: “In Damascus, at the oldest souk, a market built during the Ottoman Empire. And the Dead Sea—meeting the nomadic tent dwellers, the Bedouin. They have their tents, sheep and goats and live like they have for thousands of years.” She says the rubble and desert scenes are a departure from the ones her collectors are used to and “for that reason, these might not be sellable pieces. But what saw, I’m putting on canvas. Not many people are painting the Middle East, so this is something you may not see anywhere else.” Head to her Gallery in Harbor Springs for unveiling of several pieces from her Middle East collection paired with select Northern Michigan paintings. Witty Galerie, 236 East Main St., Harbor Springs, 231-526-1112, wittyart.com