Longtime friends Melissa Davis and Jamie Conley have joined forces in a new way through their first collaborative art exhibit.
The exhibit, on display at Amavida Coffee shop in Rosemary Beach, is the second for Davis at that location, and the first ever for Conley.
The two women bring two different styles and views to their artistic creations — Davis through abstract encaustics, and Conley through her landscape photography.
About six years ago, Conley noticed that those marketing the area for the Real Estate firm where she works were using stock photos.
"I thought, 'I can do better than that by using real photos taken of the area,'" she said.
Conley bought a simple Kodak digital camera and went out and practiced.
Not feeling confident in the craft as yet, though, she kept pestering a professional photographer friend to give her some lessons. Instead he gave her some good advice: "He told me, 'Always take your camera with you,' " she recalls now with a laugh.
The aspiring photographer took the advice.
"I always have my camera with me now (a new Cannon) and it has become a passion," she said.
Conley said although she did not always aspire to become a photographer, she has always been a visual person and artistically inclined.
"I find this area so incredibly beautiful that it's easy to be inspired," she said. "I am always aware of the weather and lighting and how it effects the landscape, how things appear, and how light hits and its effect and shadows. I feel that becoming a photographer is an evolution for me."
Conley set up an LLC and has received a lot of encouragement and support from family, friends, and co-workers as she has stepped out, she said.
Her work hangs in the office at Davis Properties in Seagrove, where she is office manager, and the Realtors give her framed prints as closing gifts. She has also sold some right off the walls to those who come in, and they are available through her website at www.jconleyimages.com.
Conley and her family moved here in 1993 from northern California where her husband was stationed as a Navy diver. They built a home in Inlet Beach in 1994.
She met Davis and they became friends about 15 years ago.
"I'm excited that my work is on display and hope that people will like the photographs featuring this beautiful part of Florida. I'm also very honored by the opportunity to partner with Melissa in the exhibit. She is a wonderful friend and a huge source of support, encouragement and inspiration," said Conley.
This is Davis' second exhibit at Amavida. She was invited to do a solo exhibit there last year, and she has exhibited her work at galleries in Seaside. She has 15 pieces hanging at Amavida, all done in encaustics. This is her first showing in that medium.
"It's the oldest form of painting using oil in beeswax," she explains.
Davis said she has been an artist her whole life, as she grew up in an artistic family. However, it was after the birth of her daughter 15 years ago that she began to pursue it.
When she picked up the paintbrush 15 years ago, Davis gravitated toward oils, which was her medium of choice for a long time.
However, she never forgot seeing an encaustic painting in Seattle 10 years ago and made a mental note that she wanted to learn to do that.
She learned the method this past summer in Asheville.
"I have to melt the wax on a hot plate then use a heat gun or blow torch. It's very laborious and expensive done on a wood panel. Creating a piece takes several days as all have 10 layers, if not more, wax with oil pigment. They never fade and you get a depth that you can't get any other way. They are incredibly luminous. I love it," she said.
The public is invited to view the work of the artists at Amavida in Rosemary Beach through the end of December.