Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Amy Peterson's view of autumn in Wills Creek Vineyard.

Paintings completed during the Southeastern Paint Out are now on exhibit in the Gadsden Museum of Art until November 11. See the paintings in this blog plus over 60 other originals daily 10-4 (except Sunday). Paintings are available for purchase.

Cynthia McGinnis's impressions of the gorge at Noccalula Falls.

Karen Weir focuses on the bright yellow of a tree silhouetted against a mountain in the Duck Springs community.

Mary McCormick captures fallen leaves and the refection of the sky on still water.

Peggy Kilgo captures the charm of a storefront in downtown Gadsden.

Don Housler is inspired by the residential architecture in Gadsden's Historical Districts including the dappled sunlight effects.

Kevin Keenan's streetscape of Cleveland Avenue combines the geometry of man-made structures with the beauty of autumn trees.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


See the entire Paint Out collection in the third floor galley at The Gadsden Museum of Art (515 Broad Street) through November 11--8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Sunday.

The last day of Southeastern Paint Out offered perfect weather, fall color, roses, and vintage architecture in Gadsden’s Historic District. Painting ended early so that artists, museum staff, and volunteers could prepare for the gallery opening at 6 p.m. But before the end of the session five artists participated in a Quick Draw competition in Judy and Don Bacon’s rose garden on Reynolds Street—a timed two-hour period where each artist completed a single painting.

At the gallery opening people came early and stayed to closing at 8 p.m. Bidders in the Wet Paint auction began picking their favorites and placing bids as soon as they entered the gallery—three lucky patrons won their choice when bidding ended. The remaining collection of over 60 original paintings is available for purchase beginning on Saturday and continuing daily through November 11 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Sunday). The gallery buzzed with people discussing the paintings with the artists and selecting the paintings they hoped to buy. Some of the most enthusiastic potential purchasers were the youngest—teens who came to the opening as an artist’s guest or with parents who were museum members.

Craig Reynolds, artist in residence for the Southeastern Paint Out, judged the Quick Draw selecting Kevin Keenan’s painting as the winner. Over $300 in prize money was awarded to participants in the Quick Draw, a donation by Craig, his sister, and his mother. Craig graciously presented the prizes while explaining the difficulties and special skills involved in creating a successful plein air painting.

After an intense week of painting through wind, rain, and finally, fair weather, the results of the artist's efforts hung on the gallery walls. The artists were exhausted but exhilarated by their experiences at the Southeastern Paint Out. Many took time to express their appreciation to the staff and volunteers of the Gadsden Museum of Art for their support and assistance during the week.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Vintage postcard offers greetings from Gadsden. The plein air painters offer another way to celebrate the beauty and variety of scenic Gadsden--see them painting today in the Historic Districts and discover a week's worth of creativty tonight at the opening reception at the Gadsden Museum of Art.

The sun finally came out on the artists in the Southeastern Paint Out Thursday when predicted rain made only one or two short appearances. Taking advantage of the favorable weather, painters spent the morning in downtown Gadsden capturing cityscapes and street scenes. In the afternoon they moved to the brow of Lookout Mountain (Scenic Drive) for dramatic overlooks of the city on one side of the ridge and rural valleys on the other.

TODAY’S LOCATION: Gadsden’s Historical Districts

Victorians from the late-1890s, craftsmen bungalows from the 1920s, and other architectural styles await them. Wide front porches decorated with fall flowers and wicker combine with landscaped yards to create a nostalgic street scene. Dogwoods, maples and other trees show off the reds, oranges, and yellows of early fall. October blue skies above—not a cloud in the sky—make for the strong value contrasts and lush colors plein air painters revel in.

Come by and see the painters on their last day of painting in the Southeastern Paint Out sponsored by the Gadsden Museum of Art. The streets are wide and parking is easy. Sidewalks make walking easy, too. For information on the exact locations of painters, check with the museum volunteers at the corner of Walnut and Turrentine Avenue—look for the blue market umbrella. Or, just ride around looking for easels—artists will be scattered along Turrentine Avenue; Haraldson, Reynolds, and Walnut Streets; and Argyle Circle.


This afternoon artists will participate in a Quick Draw competition. Museum staff will pick a location somewhere in the Historical District and artists will have only two hours to complete a painting of some aspect of that location. Prizes for the winners of the Quick Draw will be announced at the opening reception.


See the entire week’s collection while enjoying light refreshments at the opening reception tonight (October 14) from 6 to 8 p.m. Selected works from each artist will be featured in a Wet Paint Auction--—HINT! HINT! The best paintings of the week!

EXHIBIT—October 15-November 1

Discover a new way to see Gadsden! The paintings from the Southeastern Paint Out will be on display and available for purchase at the museum through November 11.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Vintage postcard of downtown Gadsden--location for the Southeastern Paint Out tomorrow. Named 'Broad Street' for its ample width, many of the storefronts remain and the street is as busy as ever with merchants, restaurants, and offices.

No sun again today as the artists in the Southeastern Paint Out spread out along the Coosa River to paint on location. Walkers at Lafferty’s Landing were surprised to find themselves sharing the boardwalk with painters and easels—but they enjoyed the change! The location gave painters plenty to choose from:

  • The bright red flare of colored leaves enlivened the green on the opposite shore. Artists know that color complements like red and green set up a kind of vibration—that is, putting together two colors that are opposites on the color wheel emphasizes their differences.
  • Water, a favorite subject for all impressionist painters, has its own color and reflects the color of the sky and the surrounding landscape. Painting water is always a challenge because it is constantly changing—but what a joy when that wet look appears as if by magic in the painting. To achieve the look artists must closely observe the contrast of light and dark and keep all the edges (the line where two colors meet) softly blurred.
  • Clouds are not puffy meringue but instead specific forms with infinite color variations that depend on the weather, time of the day, and season of the year.
  • Bridges—three of the bridges that cross the Coosa were visible from today’s locations. Memorial Bridge (Broad Street Bridge) offers dramatic arches and intricate balustrades—a romantic silhouette with the vintage look of the 1930s. Close by the railroad bridge built in the 1890s is muscular with rough hewn rock piers straddling the water and silver steel tracery above. In the opposite direction, the I-759 Bridge is starkly modern and higher than either of the older bridges. A painting of a bridge, with water moving below it and scudding clouds above, always makes for an exciting image.
  • Wildlife—rivers offer habitat to an amazing community of birds, insects, and mammals, all waiting to play a part on canvas.

Today some of the wildlife—gnats, to be specific—got up-close and personal with the artists. It appears that riverbanks are favorite habitat for these tiny two-winged flies because artist Peggy Kilgo found herself in the center of an insect cloud. Harmless but annoying, the gnats were dispersed with bug spray but in the battle some gnats lost their lives and are now preserved in oil paint. Plein air artists refer to these little bumps on the surface of a canvas as ‘texture’ and think of them as enhancing the overall effect.


If weather had been kind, the artists expected to be painting from the brow of Lookout Mountain tomorrow but since rain is expected, the artists will be painting in downtown Gadsden. The Gadsden Museum of Art (515 Broad Street) will serve as the base of operations—visitors can find out the location of the artists by stopping by the museum. Other Gadsden plein air events have experienced rain and artists have managed to produce extraordinary work. The earliest Impressionists were fascinated by all kinds of weather effects and nothing is more dramatic that slick shinny pavement and electric lights! Come out and see what the painters at the Southeastern Paint Out discover about painting architecture, busy streets, and store windows on a rainy day! The Quick Draw originally scheduled for Thursday will now be moved to the Historical Districts, the location for Friday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Tomorrow's base of operations is Lafferty's Landing (off Albert Rains Blvd.) where artists and volunteers are expecting a sunny day for painting.

Artists described their day at Wills Creek Winery as cloudy, breezy, and misty—yet they were elated about the paintings they created. Plein air painters—artists painting exclusively on-location—seek to capture the light and atmosphere of a particular place at a particular time. Artists had two locations to choose from today: one with a winding dirt road into the meadows and vineyards and another with vines and a restored windmill.

The weather provided fog lifting from the valley, clouds clinging to the top of the mountains, and brief shafts of sun breaking through the mists. Sunny days are easier to paint with strong contrasts between shadows and highlights. Cloudy, wet days call for more finesse in handing value changes and subtle color mixes. But wet days reward artists with dramatic skies and shimmering reflections.

Painting in challenging conditions is an accepted part of plein air painting and artists who brave the conditions bring back hard-won victories in the form of paintings and lots of stories. One of the most important parts of any plein air event is the camaraderie that develops among the artists and volunteers who assist them. Craig Reynolds, Artist In Residence for the Southeastern Paint Out, fosters that spirit by combining the roles of mentor, instructor, and cheerleader and still finds time to paint! Several artists talked about how a suggestion or tip from Craig made today’s session more rewarding.

Check out the paintings from Noccalula Falls Park and Wills Creek Winery in the third floor gallery at the Gadsden Museum of Art between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. See the entire week’s collection at the opening reception Friday night (October 14) from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be a Wet Paint Auction that night of selected works. The paintings will be on display and available for purchase at the museum through November 11.


After one windy day and one drizzly day, the artists expect a sunny day for Wednesday’s Coosa River locations. Lafferty’s Landing, a riverside boardwalk just off Albert Rains Boulevard, will be the base of operations. Artists will be painting there and volunteers will be available to assist visitors—look for the blue market umbrella for information. Artists may also paint at several other locations including the City of Gadsden boat dock, City Hall, Jack Ray Family Park, and James Martin Wildlife Park. All locations offer easy parking and all but James Martin Wildlife Park offer easy access to the artists with very little walking. Come enjoy the change in weather with the artists and volunteers at the Southeastern Paint Out!

Monday, October 10, 2011


You've missed the painters at Noccalula Fall but you can see them at Tuesday's location at Will Creek Winery.

The first day of the Southeastern Paint Out sponsored by the Gadsden Museum of Art proved challenging for artists—even those experienced in painting on location. The culprit? The weather—one of the uncontrollable factors that plein air painters face every time they practice their art. Monday was windy and artists had to hold onto their easels with one hand and paint with the other! Paintings landed on the ground and on laps! And yet the artists persevered.

Monday’s location, Noccalula Falls Park, is a scenic wonder—a 90-foot waterfall on top of Lookout Mountain. Visitors from Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, and Alabamians from as far a way as Mobile had the extra treat of discovering painters scattered on both sides of the Falls, in the gorge, and in the Pioneer Village.

Volunteers didn't fare much better than the artists. The blue market umbrella which is the focus of volunteer activity had to be taken down or it would have taken flight. Still the volunteers answered visitors’ questions and assisted artists throughout the day.

Lunch offered a welcome break to artist and volunteers. The City of Gadsden’s Parks and Recreation Department treated the group to a cookout at the Kiwanis Pavilion.

Windblown and exhausted, the artists and volunteers gathered Monday evening at the museum to assess the work. No one was surprised to find that the day had produced some really exciting paintings! Stop by the museum tomorrow and each day this week to view the paintings as they arrive. Come to the opening reception Friday night (October 14) from 6 to 8 p.m. to view the entire collection and meet the artists. There will be a Wet Paint Auction of selected works that night. The paintings will be on display and for sale at the museum through November 11.


The public is invited to join the artists on location in the rural beauty of Etowah County on Tuesday. Wills Creek Winery in the Duck Springs community is located north of Attalla. From Gadsden, take Noccalula Road past the Falls, cross over Interstate 59 to the intersection of Highway 11, and follow the signs to the winery. From Attalla take Highway 11 and follow the signs. The way to the Wills Creek Winery is well marked with green road signs. Artists will be on location between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Museum volunteers will be available to assist visitors. Parking at the winery is easy. There will be some walking involved to reach the artists in the vineyard unless your car can travel on an unimproved dirt road.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Craig Reynolds demonstrating plein air techniques at a workshop he taught for aspiring painters.

The Southeastern Paint Out offers people the chance to see art being made! Fifteen artists will be on locations around Gadsden for a week of painting in the plein air tradition--capturing the immediacy of light, the scene, the weather, in a single session.

Five things make this Paint Out different:

1. The Gadsden Museum of Art has hosted three other plein air events but all have been in April when spring green breaks through winter’s gray and early flowers tempt artists to the easel. This is the first autumn event and artists will trade pastel colors for the deep jewel tones of colored leaves

2. The Southeastern Paint Out is an ‘open’—that is, both professional and amateur painters will be participating (the spring event is an ‘invitational’ for professionals only). All Paint Out artists have experience working on location with the challenges of zeroing in on a subject and the distractions of being outdoors rather than in the protected environment of the studio. Expect to see a variety of styles, picture sizes from small to large, and a range of prices for finished work

3. Craig Reynolds, a local professional plein air artist, will be the first ever Artist In Residence. Craig has been a pro since 1984 but has been painting for most of his life. He comes from an artistic family and counts his father, Leo Reynolds, as an inspiration. Craig is a popular workshop instructor and is represented by galleries in Northport, Charleston, and New Orleans. At the Paint Out Craig will be there to assist the other participants and act as their local host

4. This Paint Out features Alabama painters, some who are members of the Alabama Plein Air Painters, a group of dedicated artists who specialize in painting on location in scenic Alabama.

5. The Paint Out features new locations (and some favorites from past events) and new artists who are painting in Gadsden for the first time. Come out and welcome them!

The artists will be on location at Noccalula Fall Park beginning Monday, October 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public is invited to watch the art being created and to meet the artists at their easels. Museum volunteers will be on-site to assist visitors and answer questions—look for the blue market umbrella. Every day means a new location--check with this blog or the Gadsden Museum of Art (256 546-7365) for details on each location.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Covered bridge in Pioneer Village, Noccalula Falls Park, Gadsden.

Unlike the Old West where a quick draw demonstrated mastery of firearms, a Quick Draw at a plein air event showcases artistic skills—but both focus on speed, nerve, and daring. Imagine that you are an artist painting outdoors. Stand in one spot and slowly rotate 360-degrees, what will you choose to paint?

  • Will it be a vista with deep space, or a single tree with bright foliage, or a close-up of a flower bed?
  • What will be the focal point of your composition (the element that will capture the attention of the viewer)?
  • How does light affect your choice—are you looking for deep shadows and bright highlights or a sunny aspect with only a few darks?

Get ready, get set, GO!

A Quick Draw is a contest where artists finish a painting in a single timed session of two hours. From first stoke to last, the artists must be in control, confident, and single-minded. The challenge is to focus on only part of the setting, mix hundreds of colors that reproduce and enhance what you see, and place each brushstroke just where it belongs. And do all of that with the clock ticking! Once the horn blows you must stop and submit the painting to the judges as is. The winner gets the satisfaction of showing off a rare set of skills and the possibility of winning a prize.

The Quick Draw at the Southeastern Paint Out takes place between 2 and 4 Thursday afternoon, October 13, in the Pioneer Village at Noccalula Falls Park. The public is invited see the Quick Draw in progress. The paintings will be on view at the Gadsden Museum beginning Friday morning. Winners will be announced and prize money awarded at the opening reception on Friday evening, October 14, 6-8. Come to the second floor galleries for refreshments and see the entire week’s paintings by fifteen Alabama artists.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Scenic Drive offers dramatic sunrise and sunset vistas and mountain views for the plein air painter.

Artists participating in the Southeastern Paint Out will be painting on the brow of Lookout Mountain on Thursday, October 13, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., at several locations along Scenic Drive.

Running along the rocky ridge of Lookout Mountain, Scenic Drive is only two lanes wide but it offers many opportunities for the plein air painter—look off one side to see the sprawl of Gadsden split by the Coosa River; the other side features farms, forests, valleys and distant mountains. Closer up Scenic Drive exposes the bones of the mountain in rock formations and craggy cliffs with pine trees and hardwoods softening the contours. This is a great place to watch the sun come up or go down—both from a single location on the top of a mountain!

Home builders and homeowners have accepted the challenge of the terrain and sections of Scenic Drive pass through established neighborhoods with fully grown trees, rolling green yards, and landscaped gardens. But the wilder sections offer only woods and wildflowers on both sides of the road. At one point the ridge is so narrow that only the two lane road fits the space. The variety along only a few miles of road means every plein air painter will find the perfect place to set up the easel.

To see the artists in action, climb the mountain on Noccalula Road going past Noccalula Falls Park on the left and continue up, bearing left at the red light. Drive on to the four-way stop and turn left onto Scenic Drive. Look for the blue market umbrella where museum volunteers will assist you with information about the artists’ exact locations. Parking will be difficult as the shoulders of the road are narrow. Some walking will be necessary to reach the painters. If on-location viewing is too challenging, see the paintings at the Gadsden Museum of Art beginning on Friday morning.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Claude Monet painting from a boat on the Seine River painted by fellow Impressionist Edouard Manet.

The first Impressionist painters painted on location on the Seine River in Paris in the mid-1800s. Claude Monet was so dedicated to painting on location that he outfitted a small boat as a studio. Water was an ideal subject for those early plein air painters who sought to capture light effects with flickering, broken brushstrokes—water is never still, always shimmering, with a shifting pattern of light and shade, and reflects the colors of the shore and sky.

On Wednesday, October 11, Alabama painters will accept the same challenge by painting the Coosa River in Gadsden but they won’t have to take to boats! Painters have a number of vantage points to choose from:

  • The Boat Landing on the east side of the river in the shadows of both the railroad bridge and the Memorial Bridge (Broad Street Bridge).
  • The park in front of City Hall with its commanding views both up and down river.
  • The backwater from the James Martin Wildlife Park with its ducks, herons, and geese in residence.
  • The knoll beside Convention Hall and overlooking the river with tree foliage framing the view.
  • River Country Campground with its river-edge location.
  • Jack Ray Family Park with piers out into the river.
  • The Lafferty’s Landing boardwalk.

Painters will be on location beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing to 4 p.m. To find the painters, check in with the Gadsden Museum of Art volunteers at the blue market umbrella at Lafferty’s Landing. All these locations offer easy parking for painters and visitors.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Rick Reinert's 2009 painting completed on location at the Wills Creek Winery.

Wills Creek Winery hosted artists at the Southeastern Plein Air Festival in spring, 2009 and artists will return for the Southeastern Paint Out, October 11, 2012. The attractions remain the same—trellised vines, winding road, fields, lake, and wooded mountains—but the change in season introduces new colors to the palette. For the plein air painter the winery offers an abundance of choice on location and subject from the distance vista across the fields to the mountains to the close-up of fruited vines. Unlike other locations, the artists can drive into the property, park under a sheltering tree, and set up within a few minutes—a convenience when you have to carry 20 pounds or more of equipment!

The winery is located just north of Attalla in the Duck Springs community. Take Highway 11 (which parallels Interstate-59) and follow the signs—the way to the winery is well marked. On the way enjoy the scenic beauty of rural Etowah County. Parking is no problem for visitors who can walk or drive to the artists’ locations. Visitors will also want to visit the Wills Creek Winery shop for locally made wines and decorative accessories that echo the vineyard motif.

Look for the blue umbrella in the parking lot where volunteers are ready to assist you during your visit. Artists will be on location between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Above: Plein air painter on Black Creek above the Falls.

Left: Vintage postcard of Noccalula Falls.

On Monday, October 10, plein air artists will be on location at Noccalula Falls Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Southeastern Paint Out hosted by the Gadsden Museum of Art. What scenic beauty will inspire the artists?

The Falls

The outstanding feature is a 90-foot waterfall on a mountain top—the western end of Lookout Mountain. Ample rain produces raging white water above and below the falls. Even when water is lower, slower, and calmer, the sight of water cascading from the high rim to the gorge below is an awe inspiring sight. Unlike at other attractions, walking paths allow visitors to get close to the Falls and lucky visitors may see a fully formed rainbow in the spray far below. Vantage points range from a few feet from the drop-off to a bridge arching over Black Creek just behind the cliff edge to the rim of the gorge. One particularly picturesque long view features benches with ample space off the pathway to set up easels. For painters who enjoy including figures in their work, families can often be seen wading in the shallows feeding the ducks and waterfowl that abound in the creek above the Falls. Rocks smoothed by thousands of years of water flow offer access to the creek’s edge and are fascinating records of geological forces.

The Gorge

For the adventurous (and fit) painter steps and trails provide access to the gorge below the Falls. Under the waterfall is a rock shelter which allows hikers to pass behind the rushing water and to look out through its lacy patterns. Huge boulders fallen from the rim over the ages frame the pool at the foot of the waterfall. Emptying from the pool Black Creek continues as a rushing mountain stream with rocks, rivulets, and pools.

The Park and Pioneer Village

Reconstructed log cabins, a covered bridge, and other historic structures offer the artists the challenge of architecture softened by native plantings and mature trees. A miniature train offers an excellent way for painters to look for possible locations and for visitors to see the painters at work—and another possible subject for the day’s painting excursion.

Visitors Welcome!

Museum volunteers will be on hand to assist visitors coming to meet the artists and see them at work. Look for the blue umbrella at the entrance to the park.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The Gadsden Museum of Art is hosting its first fall plein air after three successful spring events. Fifteen professional and amateur artists will be on location the week of October 10, Monday through Friday (see schedule below).

The public is invited to visit the locations to see the painting in progress and attend the Gallery Opening on Friday, October 14, 6-8 p.m., at the museum (515 Broad Street). Paintings will be on exhibit from October 15 to November 11. Paintings will be available for purchase.

  • Monday, October 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.--Noccalula Falls
  • Tuesday, October 11, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.--Wills Creek Winery (Duck Springs)
  • Wednesday, October 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.--Lafertty's Landing on the Coosa
  • Thursday, October 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.--The Brow (Lookout Mountain location to be announced later)
  • Friday, October 14, 9 to 3 p.m.--Downtown Historic Districts (Turrentine, Walnut, Haralson, Reynolds, and Argyle)

Friday, May 6, 2011


What makes a Southern landscape? Ask Robin Roberts, an oil painter who has lived in five states but claims her roots are in North Alabama. For her the Southern landscape emerges from the mystery of light and shadow—bright sun set against the deep shade cast by trees. Robin is attracted to each time of the day as a unique combination of color and pattern and captures that fleeting look with color contrasts and vigorous brushwork. By transforming ordinary views and everyday scenes through her paintings, Robin invites the viewer to remember those places closest to the heart. As she puts it:

“I hope people find the excitement I see in light that flickers in the trees. Trees have gestures and that seed of composition requires my response.”

Robin has taken classes and workshops with nationally and regionally recognized artists, many who emphasized the importance of painting on location (en plein air). Now an established artist, her landscapes and paintings of animals are exhibited in the following galleries: Dragonfly Gallery in Fayetteville, Tennessee; Ashland Gallery in Mobile; ARTifacts Gallery in Florence; Renaissance Gallery in Northport; Charleston House Gallery in Montgomery; and Kathleen’s Art in Decatur. This month her paintings from the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational are on exhibit in the galleries at the Gadsden Museum of Art along with those of the 14 other professional artists who participated in the week long event.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Top: Oil painting of the course at the Gadsden Country Club by Donna Chieves.

Bottom: Pen and ink with watercolor rendering of the club house, Gadsden Country Club, by Donna Chieves.

Donna Chieves demonstrated her versatility at the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational by creating work in oil, pen and ink, and watercolor. At home in Birmingham she paints portraits of people, pets, and homes but she also frequently paints en plein air as she has for the last three events hosted by the Gadsden Museum of Art.

At this year’s event Donna impressed everyone with her pen and ink drawings of architectural subjects like the First National Bank in Attalla (now Wells Fargo Bank) and the Gadsden Country Club. Mastering perspective is one of the most challenging skills required of artists and one that Donna demonstrates to perfection. But she is equally adept at atmospheric and colorful landscapes that capture the beauty of a spring day.

Donna is both academically and artistically talented. She has a B.A. in Art from the University of Montevallo, a B.S. from Oglethrope University, has studied at the Atlanta College of Art and Georgia State University, and frequently takes part in workshops. Donna found ways to combine academics and art with study abroad. She spent a year in Paris studying at the Sorbonne, soaking up the ambience of one of the great cities for art appreciation, and painting. After winning a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to India she again combined travel, education, and painting. Not content to always be a student, Donna also teaches painting at the Arceneau Art Gallery in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a member of the Alabama Plein Air Artists and Oil Painters of America.

Donna's paintings and drawings are currently on display in the galleries of the Gadsden Museum of Art through June 3.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Top: First prize winner in Quick Draw, Dot Courson for "Patriot"

Middle: Second prize winner in Quick Draw, Craig Reynolds for "The Stoop"

Bottom: Third prize winner in Quick Draw, Millie Gosch for "The Patriot"

On-location painting for the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational is over but the event continued Friday night with an opening reception and Silent Auction. Art collectors came out to enjoy music, refreshments, and to buy art—sales topped $7,000. With over 150 original paintings created in one week by 15 professional artists, many paintings remain in the galleries of the Gadsden Museum of Art and are for sale through June 3.

A highlight of Friday night’s reception was the awarding of prizes for the Quick Draw, a special competition where artists had only two hours to complete a painting. Dot Courson took first prize, Craig Reynolds second, and Millie Gosch third--all painting the same doorway! The cash prizes for the Quick Draw were graciously donated by Mrs. Ruth Reynolds, widow of well-known local artist Leo Reynolds.

Come by the Gadsden Museum of Art to view the paintings from the 2011 Southeastern Plein Air Invitational. The next plein air event will be in October and will be open to all painters, professional or amateur. Look for the information about the event on the museum’s Web site.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Flowers by Donna Chieves

Landscape painting by Dot Courson

Musical group painting by Robin Roberts

What a week! Artists have painted everyday—even under threat of tornados on Wednesday. By 9 p.m. Thursday, 124 new originals were hanging on the gallery walls at the Gadsden Museum of Art—everything from grand vistas to intimate flower studies, musical groups to garden ornaments, street scenes to charming cottages.

Today the artists paint in the residential historical districts—Turrentine Avenue; Haraldson, Reynolds, and Walnut Streets; and Argyle Circle. This morning they are painting houses and gardens in a leisurely fashion but this afternoon they will switch to “quick draw” mode. A Quick Draw means that the artists get set up on the view of their choice, a whistle blows and the artists have only two hours to complete a painting before the whistle blows again. Ruth Reynolds, the widow of the artist Leo Reynolds and the mother of Craig Reynolds, one of the professionals participating in the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational, has generously donated the prizes for the Quick Draw.

Best of Show and other awards will be presented this evening at a reception at the Gadsden Museum of Art, 6-8 p.m. The public is invited to see the paintings, participate in a Wet Paint Auction (silent auction) of the artists’ choice of their best work (two from each of the15 professionals), and meet the artists.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Top: Beverly Ford Evans, Gadsden Country Club

Above: Jill Berry, Gadsden Country Club

Two days of paintings hang on the walls of the Gadsden Museum of Art. The 15 artists of the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational have faced windy conditions, threat of rain, and fatigue to produce truly outstanding paintings. Not content to paint only at the pre-arranged locations, some rise at 4 a.m. to find just the right place to catch the sun rise. Others skip supper to go to the rocky ridge of Scenic Drive to paint until it is too dark to see the canvas. For this week of intensive effort, the artists will go all out to chase the best views and bring them back on canvas to be enjoyed for years to come.

The difference in styles is astonishing from muted tonal palettes with smoothly graduated values to thick, staccato strokes that seem to break the painting surface into shards of color. Sweeping landscapes sit next to closely observed flower studies and old barns show off their gray sides and tin roofs next to manicured golf holes with triangular flags flying. Every artist has a point of view and a personal style—the fun comes in liking every painting but feeling the tug of preference for the special one that seems to speak directly to you.

Come by the museum to see the first 60+ paintings and visit the artists as they set up their easels in downtown Gadsden, Alabama City, and Attalla on Wednesday, on the banks of the Coosa at Rainbow Landing (Southside Bridge) on Thursday, and in the historic districts on Friday (Turrentine Avenue; Haralson, Walnut, and Reynolds Streets; and Argyle Circle). See all the paintings and meet the artists at the reception on Friday, April 29, 6-8 p.m. in the galleries at the Gadsden Museum of Art.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Dot Courson from Pontotac, Mississippi, was the first artist to arrive for the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational and the first thing she said was, “You don’t know how lucky you are in Gadsden to have so much to paint!” Dot’s Southern landscapes depict the scenic beauty of her home state, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina—each of which she says has its own characteristic light, physical features, and atmosphere.

Dot took art classes in college but she became first a nurse and then a Healthcare Administrator. All the time Dot painted part time and studied with the late Billy Kirk, a well-known Mississippi artist who became her mentor. Now Dot is mentor to students in workshops like the one she taught last spring in Gadsden.

Dot is a juried member of Oil Painters of America, Landscape Artists International, Mississippi Painter’s Society, Mississippi Oil Painters Association, and Women Painters of the Southeast. She was the only Mississippi artists accepted into the American Women Artists National Exhibition in 2010, one of 65 artists from across the nation so honored.

While Dot was here for the 2010 plein air event, most of the locations this year will be new to her. It will be fascinating to see her vision of the unique characteristics of an Alabama spring. Visit her on location, April 25-29, and view her completed work in the galleries of the Gadsden Museum of Art through June 3.


The Southeastern Plein Air Festival is underway! Fifteen professional artists arrived last evening at the Gadsden Museum of Art for orientation for a week of on-location painting. Today they are painting at the Gadsden Country Club until 4:30. If you go, look for the Blue Umbrella in the first parking lot after the entrance (the pool parking lot)--volunteers will be there to assist you. Expect to do some walking because the only people with golf carts are the artists!

Tomorrow the artists will be painting at a farm 10 miles north of Attalla--call the museum for directions if you plan to go.

Drop by the museum between 10 and 4 all week to see the paintings that have been turned in each day. Please join the museum staff, artists, and volunteers at a reception on Friday evening, April 29, 6-8. All paintings will be for sale and 30 (two from each artists) will be in a Silent Auction.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Jan Polk paints with palette knives instead of the more usual bruhes. She traces the technique back to the original Impressionist, Claude Monet. While Jan has been studying art since the mid-1980s, she developed her current techniques at a 2003 workshop taught by Susan Sarback, founder of the School of Light and Color ( Sarback spent many years researchin the secret of painting the full spectrum of color as Monet did. Monet was self-taught and did not teach students but his contemporary, Charles Hawthorne, did. One of Hawthorne’s many students was Henry Hensche, an American Impressionist who became well-known as an art teacher. Sarback studied with him and now passes the techniques to her own students--like Jan Polk.

How is palette knife painting different? Each painting implement has its own character that determines in the way paint is applied and the final look of the painting. The flexible metal palette knives lend themselves to a thicker application of paint called impasto and an almost three-dimensional surface to the finished painting. By using the point or edge of the knife the artist can draw back into the paint revealing colors underneath.

While bold in execution, Jan’s paintings have a soft, soothing, mellow appearance that matches her philosophy. She sees a connection between painting and people’s behavior: “I want to use art to inspire all of us to be respectful to one another and to work together just as the paints must work together to achieve beautiful results.”

Jan’s art has led to affiliations with well-known organizations including the Cincinnati Art Club (Signature Status), Exhibiting Member of the Pleasure Island Art Association in Orange Beach, Alabama, and the Women’s Art Club of Cincinnati.

Jan has participated in the two previous plein air events in Gadsden and returns this year as one of 15 professionals invited to paint on location, April 25-29. Come watch Jan create landscapes using the palette knife technique and then view her paintings in the galleries at the Gadsden Museum of Art with a deeper understanding of how and why they were created.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Gina Brown is one of two local artists participating in the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational. The other, Craig Reynolds, was Gina teacher and mentor as she developed her art career. Gina participated in the first two plein air events hosted by the Gadsden Museum of Art as a gifted amateur but she was ready to join the cadre of professionals for this year’s event.

Gina, like many of the professionals in the event, showed early talent by sketching and painting as a child. And, also like many, life put those inclinations on hold while she attended to the demands of education, career, marriage, and motherhood. In 2009 she began studying with Craig and reconnected with what had been missing, the desire to create and share her art. Because she had worked as a graphic designer, she already possessed an understanding of composition and color and now applied those skills to oil painting. She began to paint often, almost every day. That commitment led to a rapidly maturing and distinctive style featuring lush colors, bold brushwork, and a ‘juicy’ look that jumps off the canvas. Gina’s selection of subject matter is also distinctive—like most plein air painters she focuses on landscapes but sometimes switches to more of a still life aesthetic by painting an interesting garden feature or flower-filled container. More than technique or style, Gina seeks to make her work personal. As Gina says, “Every painting has a story that I must share.”

In just a few years Gina went from being a workshop participant to a professional affiliated with the Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, Women Painters of the Southeast, Alabama Plein Air Artists, and 10 Everyday Painters. Her work is represented by the Shelby Lee Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina and Renaissance Gallery in Northport, Alabama.

Thirteen artists come to the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational from other towns in Alabama or from other states. Craig and Gina know Gadsden and the surrounding county intimately—its history, ambience, light, and atmosphere. How will that connection become visible in the art they create during the event? See the artists on location (April 25-29) and enjoy their art in the galleries of the Gadsden Museum of Art through June 3.