An artistic worldview

Solo art show in Ashby Ponds’ art gallery displays Alicia Sommers’ abstract paintings

Created date

March 10th, 2020
Ashby Ponds community member Alicia Sommers poses beside her abstract painting Ebb Tide. Alicia is wearing a red shirt with a dark colored vest over top.

Ashby Ponds community member Alicia Sommers and her painting Ebb Tide at Stonington.

"If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”—Edward Hopper

An accomplished artist working with a variety of mediums, Alicia Sommers recently shared a collection of her abstract art. Her solo art show took place in the Great Oak Clubhouse Art Gallery at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living-managed community in Ashburn, Va., where she’s lived with her husband Bill for the last two years.

“Art is an integral part of my life,” she says. “Every painting I do is a new adventure, and I try to express excitement, movement, unique reaction, and a sense of adventure.”

She’s a natural

Born and raised in Albany, N.Y., Alicia’s grandfather first introduced her to the arts when she was a toddler.

“He taught me to play on his harp when I was just five years old,” she says. “Two years later, I performed in a solo contest. In fact, I still have that harp with me today.”

It was not until her adult years that Alicia would reignite her creative fire. Shortly after moving to Great Falls, Va., in 1979, she registered for a drawing class.

“The class inspired me to earn a fine arts degree,” she says. “I earned the degree at Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun. I then took a hiatus from art to earn an information technology degree from George Mason University and then worked at the Government Accountability Office where I specialized in defense and security IT issues.”

Following her retirement in 2000, Alicia returned to her beloved art classes.  

“I took my first abstract painting class and realized how very much I enjoy this art form,” she says. “I find it offers great freedom, continuing excitement, and exceptionally rewarding outcomes. My paintings express my love of color, texture, and movement. I create acrylic paintings on canvas and paper that explore my visual and emotional reaction to my surroundings. Abstract art is an invigorating formula for never-ending learning and growth.”

A seed takes root

The combination of retirement and the discovery of her love for abstract art allowed Alicia to continue her study of the craft. 

“I’ve begun taking abstract expressionist painting classes at Glen Echo Park and the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria,” she says. 

Two year ago, Alicia and Bill moved to Ashby Ponds, and news of her talent spread quickly. She was asked to put on an art show of her favorite abstract pieces at the Great Oak Clubhouse “GO” Art Gallery.

“I was elated so many people came to my opening reception and by the positive comments I received,” she says. “For the next two months, while my paintings remained on display, the feedback was even better as total strangers approached me in person or by email to give me positive remarks. For example, some email messages said “Every time I pass GO Art Gallery, I can’t take my eyes off your amazing artwork. It’s vibrant, colorful, and eye-catching”

At any given time, Alicia is working on six to eight paintings. 

“Sometimes, I start with a new canvas, and sometimes I rework older paintings,” she says. “Some paintings will take only a few months to execute, but, more frequently, paintings take much longer to complete. That is because I still am not sufficiently satisfied with a painting until I feel good about how its overall composition, color, contrast, unique texture, and movement work together.”

Inspiration on the road

In addition to working on her art, Alicia enjoys worldwide travel and visiting museums. Last year, she and Bill visited Portland, Maine, to see the Japanese and Chinese Gardens and Cannon Beach to see the 235-foot Haystack Rock formation. The couple followed up the trip with a visit to the Shenandoah Mountains and a fall excursion to Italy. 

“In December, we visited the Richmond Museum of Fine Arts to see the wonderful Edward Hopper exhibit,” she says. “The year before, we stayed in the Marais section of Paris to revisit many great museums there. This year, we will travel to Barcelona to reacquaint ourselves with Gaudi architecture. We will then travel to Provence, French Riviera, Avignon, Nice, Monaco, the Cinque Terre, and Florence.  We look forward to going to many museums on this trip.”

Alicia always returns from her many travels invigorated and eager to continue work on her art and fully engage herself in life at Ashby Ponds.

“Ashby Ponds has so many talented and well-traveled residents, along with a wealth of clubs to join,” she says. “I am a member of the garden and genealogy clubs, and take painting classes off campus. Bill and I are happy we chose Ashby Ponds. It is the model retirement community and I am happy that I can still paint and grow artistically.”