Artists-in-Residency program proves popular
Even though the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum is still a few months away from opening, art lovers are still walking to that end of Blowing Rock to get a dose of culture.
The Blowing Rock Historical Society's Artists-in-Residency program is attracting plenty of foot traffic at the historic Edgewood Cottage in downtown Blowing Rock. Six days a week, local artists are on hand to talk with visitors about a wide variety of art.
This week, plein air painter Ted Eikman has 36 paintings, as well as four sculptures on exhibit at Edgewood Cottage.
Beginning on Tuesday, July 26, artists Bob Stevens and Kate Colclaser will exhibit colored pencil paintings and hand-painted silk scarves, respectively.
Admission to the Artists-in-Residency series is free, and artists are on hand Tuesday through Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Visitors to the Edgewood Cottage will have the opportunity to view and read about Blowing Rock artist Elliott Daingerfield, who originally built the cottage and taught art classes there. A number of Daingerfield originals are permanently on exhibit at the cottage.
Eikman finds his inspiration in everyday scenes, as well as in majestic natural formations.
"Most people just don't take the time to really look at the subtleties of nature, the artist brings attention to the small beauties many of us overlook," said Eikman.
Most of Eikman's oil paintings are views of nature and landscapes. The view through his window in Huckleberry Knob is always available for reference when he is mixing colors for the myriad natural greens his work requires. Even as a child, growing up in rural Indiana, Eikman learned his appreciation of nature close-up. The woods behind his home were full of moving water, plants and mosses, which he could observe at leisure.
In St. Petersburg, Fla., he taught art classes, ranging from jewelry and ceramics to drawing and painting. After experimenting with these media, he settled upon painting as his medium of choice.
"Painting can be done anywhere and does not require a lot of equipment," Eikman said. "It can be done at any age, and your arms don't wear out."
Eikman's art has been influenced by the plein air movement and the Hudson River School, as well as Impressionism.
Two area artists who have offered him guidance are Egidio Antonaccio and the late Richard Evans Younger, a world-renowned wildlife artist.
His family later moved to Tallahassee, Fla., where he attended public school and Florida State University, earning a B.A. and an M.A.
Although Eikman has tried different mediums, he prefers oil paint for its qualities of translucence and flexibility.
Eikman and his wife, Beth, moved a 150-year-old log cabin onto their lot in Huckleberry Knob in 1982 and have spent their summers there since. Their home is always graced with two or more dogs, which Eikman has used as subject matter for his paintings over the years.
At the age of 8, he began studying the violin. He participated in school orchestra through high school, then took a long hiatus from music. In his 40s, he began playing again.
He studies with Glen Muegel, a retired Appalachian State University professor, and, in Florida, plays first violin with the Suncoast Symphony. Eikman asserts that playing the violin and painting are the two hardest things he has ever done. "Both skills take a lifetime to develop," he said.
Kate Colclaser has been working in ceramics and fiber for more than 15 years.
Her expressions of nature are reflected in her textures and colors. The influences of the natural surroundings can be seen in the texture, color, shape or movement of the pieces.
Trees, bark, leaves, rocks and the lacy patterns of a frozen stream edge or a frosted forgotten flower can be seen in the surfaces of her vases and sculptures, and also in the water color images of her hand painted silks.
Most of Colclaser's clay work is handbuilt with slabbed, extruded or thrown elements. Each piece is unique, and much time is spent forming and texturing the pieces. Color is added through multiple layers of stain, terra sigllata or glaze. Pieces are fired multiple times to achieve the color desired.
Colclaser combines functional and decorative elements in her work, giving her the most freedom to play with texture and shape. Much of her work demands attention to detail, even though the piece may have very organic elements.
Colclaser has been influenced by - and has worked with - Kiuske Misuno, Sandy Pierantossi and Hayne Bayless and has studied at Penland and the Arrowmont School of Craft. Her work can be found in several local shops and at Doe Ridge Gallery in Boone.
Although Bob Stevens has experimented with watercolor pencils and adding watercolor to a few paintings, his goal is to produce each "painting" using only his prismacolor colored pencils no matter what the subject - animals, structures, landscapes, people, water or any combination thereof.
Stevens uses colored pencils in a layering process to achieve value, hue and shading. He varies the amount of pressure, which produces the value desired. His use of different weight and grading of paper enables him to achieve his desired results.
Over the years, Stevens has - through trial and error - discovered how to optimize his use of colored pencils to achieve an end result that is comparable to a good oil painting.
His first exposure to art was through his mother. On a visit home from college, he found her in her finished basement teaching a ceramics class. She had bought a kiln, made molds, and designed and painted figurines. For several years, Stevens helped her with the whole process.
After Stevens retired some 16 years ago, Peggy Cline Richardson, his mother-in-law, introduced him to oil painting. She was a highly competent artist and served as his mentor for a 10-year period before her death. Stevens also studied oil painting at the Lighthouse Gallery in Tequesta, Fla.
Approximately eight years ago, he began sketching objects and people in black and white graphite pencils. After he learned to master the colored pencils, he never painted with oils again.
Stevens embraced the benefit of colored pencils, the ability to create art in only 10 minutes without making a mess and without the need for a special room or studio.
During his annual, six-month stay in the mountains, Stevens studies the art of colored pencils with John Bond, owner of the Art Mart and director of the Art Mart Academy in Boone.
Stevens spent 32 years in the computer business. At that time, his life with four children was his priority. At the same time he started painting, he also began writing poetry. He combined his two art forms to create greeting cards.
"My wife recently reminded me that we haven't bought a greeting card for 15 years, and my daughter recently told me how much her children look forward to my cards," Stevens said.