Artist of the Week: Judy Mudd, Bespoke Atmospheres

Judy Mudd painting en plein air

There is a Georgian, redbrick mansion called “Locust Grove” in Louisville, Kentucky. The structure – a handsome, mossy house – stands square and sturdily on the 18th century estate of a once Mr. William Croghan. 

The estate’s chambers and corridors have collected and preserved years of history; and, overall, it has become a historical monument and local attraction for Louisville. When Judy Mudd, a Louisville-based artist and watercolor instructor, visited Locust Grove she detected – an artist’s way – the rich inspiration that trails over so many years.

Blue Foothills (16″x12″) by Judy Mudd, watercolor

She began a series (incidentally, on which she is currently working) of watercolors that portray the interiors of Locust Grove. 

“The interior rooms with natural lighting emanating from the windows were beautiful. And, I hope to capture that in my paintings,” says Judy.  

Condemned (11″ x 15″) by Judy Mudd, watercolor

Judy’s modest and hopeful words direct themselves towards one of the most arresting qualities of her artwork: light. Throughout her watercolors, she uses light and shadow to instill each scene with its own aura.

A New Dawn (11″ x 15″) by Judy Mudd, watercolor

“Expressing mood and atmosphere is more important to me than sticking with a genre,” says Judy. In a way, these finessed elements – light, mood, and atmosphere – are her genre. 

Judy’s use of light is both multilayered and atmospheric – a style that, though in some ways obscuring, illuminates important compositional details into focus.

Brigid’s Way (10″ x 14″) by Judy Mudd, watercolor

In many of her paintings – such as, St. Brigid’s Way, Union Station, and Vision of Anchorage, light and shadow divide the picture plane, guiding the eye through the composition. In other paintings – such as, A New Dawn, Happy Hour (Chicago), and Sunday Drive – light hangs in fog creating a thick depth.  

Sunday Drive (11″ x 15″) by Judy Mudd, watercolor

To capture her signature ambiance (which, in its relationship to space, is more bespoke than prêt-à-porter) she meditates to recreate the sensations of each setting.

“I find myself meditating to attempt to put myself into place and imagine what it would physically feel like being there, as I see it. I then interpret those feelings into colors, values, and edges,” says the artist.

Willows Walk (16″ x 12″) by Judy Mudd, watercolor

In some ways – certainly in its omnipresence and enlightenment – the light throughout Judy’s compositions can be looked at as a metaphor for her own artistic impulse.

She is in a constant state of creating and learning. She fills each moment with thoughts, observations, studies, notes, lesson plans for her painting and painting instruction.  

“I sketch at ball games, restaurants, doctors’ offices, and even waiting in traffic at a long red light,” says Judy – who is always is kitted up with a sketchbook and camera prepared to annotate the inspiration around her.

She describes herself as both the type who grows bored easily but also one who is easily intrigued and inspired. These traits are reflected in her wide range of subject matter that spans from rural landscapes, to cityscapes, to portraiture, to still life.

See Judy Mudd’s full portfolio on UGallery.