Behind the Muse: with John Bell

John Bell has a pin in my timeline. He was my first (ever) art teacher. After skimming through high school without taking a single art class, I showed up to his Blue Ridge Community College Intro to Drawing course with a 6B in my shaky hand. That class paired with his Art History course was a potent mixture that would seep into my soul for years to come. I really can’t accurately measure the impact he’s had on my skill, style, and love for art. He is the kind of teacher that had me seeing this world around me. I started looking up at building structure, noticing placement in paintings like The Swing and proportion in pieces like the Pietá, placing importance on seemingly mundane details in artwork like eyesight, value changes, and directional lines. He had me wondering things like “Why is she giving him a carnation?” and “What’s so controversial about Caravaggio anyway?”  I began to question and therefore understand history through art. He did this for me and it’s truly an honor to have him participating in this art show that Denise and I have created. This year John is portraying Nashville artist Renee Somers and Jess Herr will be portraying John.

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“After exchanging e-mails for several months, my Art Lotto “pardner” Renee Somers and I got together today for a rewarding session of conversation, coffee, drawing, painting, and a few photos. (I did a charcoal study – Renee, who lives in Nashville, decided to start a portrait of me in oils). When I chose her name, I knew it had a familiar ring to it. I soon found out it was Paul’s mother. I’ve known Paul since he was a student of mine about 12 years ago. The other connection Renee and I have is that we are both art educators. After seeing the Art Lotto 2012 show, I knew that I just had to be a part of it this year. It was easily one of the best group shows I’ve ever seen in The Burg. Since I haven’t done many portraits in recent years, this will be a challenge for me – but, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it … for me, art is very much about The Challenge. It also seemed like a unique opportunity to get to know fellow artists (Jess Herr is doing my portrait … another art teacher!). Thanks to Brandy and all the others that are working to make Art Lotto happen!” ~John

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Photos courtesy of Paul Somers

 

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Behind the Muse: with Renee Somers

I’ve known Renee Somers for nearly 15 years. She is an artist in every sense of the word. She lives it, preaches it, breathes it, studies it, does it, loves it and just can’t get away from it. It bleeds from her. It is her. She currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee but is no stranger to the Valley. Renee’s son, Paul, is a go-to for artful adventures in Harrisonburg, carrying on her passions and giving her ample reasons to visit: film festivals, poetry readings, art shows and…oh yeah, her amazingly sweet grandchildren. This is Renee’s second Art Lotto go-round. Last year she took home the prize for Best Hair with her painting of Matt Sedeen. This year, she’ll be all tangled up in the locks of Matt Hall. Fellow art educator/artist John Bell will be portraying Renee. After meeting with Matt for the first time, Renee sent me the following quick-sketch and thoughts:

Renee Somers Sketch of Matt Hall
Renee’s sketch of Matt Hall after meeting him for the first time.

“I wondered who was the artist I would paint for Art Lotto. I came, I looked, I wondered. I was plopped down on a stool at the Artful Dodger thinking each person I saw might be him. I asked first one and then another. I looked for someone looking for someone. Then about the time I settled in and just decided to relax, I ordered a coffee and told the bartender I was “just waiting for Matt Hall” and he said, “Why he’s right there,” and called him over. He resembled the images I had seen painted through the centuries of the Christ. I was thrilled at the fun hair I would get to paint and my immediate response was to do a Christ look-alike. But who knows where the spirit will take me as I handle this young artists face with my paintbrush and follow the contours of a well-chiseled firm face and curly feathery hair. 

You know, when it comes to Art Lotto, it is about surprise, anticipation, and visual resurrections of our perceptions coupled with the images of the artists we have selected to portray. I took some pictures of Matt and my son, Paul, took some pictures for me. If you want to find out the outcome of this fabulous opportunity, meet me at the Art Lotto opening at the Artful Dodger. Last year and to-date, it was the best art show I had seen in years. The diversity, the talent, and the ambiance of the whole concept, of artists painting artists, was just inspiring. Top that off with the Super Gr8 Film Festival and you have music, passion and art all wrapped up in a artful heartful community.” ~Renee