Show highlights 'Garden' paintings

Article Published: Nov. 24, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Show highlights 'Garden' paintings

For Bennette Rowan, art isn't just a form of self-expression.

"Every painting that you do is a learning experience," she said.

And, in her Johnson City, Tenn., studio, she's surrounded by inspiration.

Everything from the trees to the mountains themselves catches both her eye and her paintbrush.

"I just feel that we're all interconnected in this world, and nature is part of the backdrop," Rowan said. "Through nature and the beauty of nature, I feel like I can represent part of this connection we all have between each other and this world."

Though pet portrait commissions help pay the bills, the real masterpieces are in her "garden" and "nature" series. A master gardener with an intimate knowledge of local flora, Rowan's green thumb print is all over her canvases, but it's the humanity present in the landscapes that often piques a viewer's interest.

"One painting I'm particularly fond of," she said, "is of a fisherman, and that fisherman was a really good friend of mine. We did a lot of camping and canoeing and hiking, and I did a painting of him fly fishing, so that has a special meaning to me."

Rowan doesn't just capture a picture-perfect landscape, she catches locals, both at work or immersed in the scenery, illustrating mountain life.

It's these pictures that are highlighted at a Christmas Open House at Alta Vista Gallery in Valle Crucis.

Inspired by the likes of Georgia O'Keefe and Vincent Van Gogh, Rowan didn't focus on studio art until graduating college with a liberal arts degree.

Now, she's managed to move past the canvas and into the classroom, teaching workshops and painting classes out of her home gallery in Johnson City. The daughter of an artist, Rowan's new journey as a mentor is a continuation of her personal artistic journey.

"I had a teacher once put it this way," she said. "It's like a big circle. You have teachers in front of you who you've learned from. You have your peers at each side of you and at the back are your students, and you leave your learning to them ... you're surrounded."

Rowan's paintings are no stranger to Alta Vista, gallery owner Maria Santomasso Hyde said.

"Customers are always asking me about her unique style and the stories behind the paintings," Hyde said, and she should know. She's been selling Rowan's paintings for 11 years.

Rowan will be present at Alta Vista's annual Christmas Open House.

It happens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 27. Expect light refreshments. For more information, visit Alta Vista Gallery is located at 2839 Broadstone Road in Valle Crucis.

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