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

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Behind the Muse: with Kyle Scott Mitchell

“I drew Angus Carter at the Luck of the Draw event, and it’s kind of a funny story. Angus and I have been good friends since High School. We joked about the what ifs of drawing each other’s names, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I actually saw his name roll out from under that cup.”AngusKyleLarkin

“My process starts from a board, or canvas that I’ll cover with a thick coat of black paint. For me, it eliminates all other elements, and possibilities, allowing me to get at only what needs to be there. Usually it’s in the form of old memories that are pulled from somewhere in the backlogs of my brain. It takes a lot of concentration, but something always comes screaming through. Afterward, it’s just a mad rush to bring it out of the black before it’s forgotten, or I have to start all over. It’s actually a really exciting process for me, and usually accompanied by some fun music. I guess it’s kind of a Zen approach to art, but I really don’t label myself as such.

Whenever I do portraits, they tend to deviate from my normal method in some way that bends more toward their character. Angus’ portrait is no different. So far it’s turned into something slightly more complex, and chaotic, which actually suits him pretty well.” ~Kyle

I ran into Kyle and Angus recently at an art opening at Larkin Arts. When I cornered them for a photo, I asked Kyle if they had any older photos together. Much to my surprise, Kyle sent me this gem. Check out Kyle and Angus in high school!

Angus and Kyle Throwback1“We were all going to a pro wrestling show, if I recall, and it was canceled. We all pretended to be really super bummed for the photo. I was a bit of a chunkier kid in High School, making really bad choices in hair-styles, and Angus was a skinny little vegan/straight edge dude (hard to believe, I know). We’re on the bottom right of the photo.” ~Kyle

Look for Kyle’s portrait of Angus at the August Art Lotto opening as well as the portrait of Kyle which is being created by Parvina Mamatova.

Behind the Muse: with Pat Jarrett

Winner of last year’s Oh Snap! photography award and down right awesome photographer, Pat Jarrett, is up to good again. This year, he selected Parvina Mamatova’s name from the cup at the Luck of the Draw event. Since graduating from James Madison University in 2012, Parvina has relocated to Baltimore. The distance between her and Pat created a small obstacle that proved easily maneuvered by these two motivated artists. Pat shared a digital sketch of his portrait of Parvina along with a few words about his experience.
Parvina Pat Jarrett
“Because Parvina lives in Baltimore it was tricky connecting, but we just so happened to be in the same town on the same day in March so we met at IKEA. We walked around looking for the right book shelves I needed to buy, chatting about her life and her thoughts on creativity and whatnot. I like her style, she has good energy. Also, she was wearing an IKEA-blue coat. After making frames in the store we went outside and I had her stand against the blue exterior of the building. The last frame was the best. 
Last year I made a portrait of Elliott Downs using an extensive projection technique with multiple shoots and slide projectors. I am still quite interested in watching how projections work with digital photography, but since I only had the one shoot with her I started playing around with color and differing opacity. Mine is still not complete, but it is a play on red v blue.” ~Pat

Behind the Muse: with Rebecca Rust

Rebecca Rust, signed up for Art Lotto in person at one of our sign up events held at the Blue Nile. There’s just something about her that draws you in and makes you think twice about what’s going on behind those merlot colored glasses. This year, Matt Hall has been assigned the task of showing us his Rebecca as he will be creating a portrait of her for our August opening. Aside from getting involved in the arts and chatting about life at weekly girls night, Becca is also a derby girl. Mmm hmm. Pretty b.a. huh? Watch her in action at a Rocktown Roller event near you.
This year, Becca will be doing a portrait of Jon Gehman

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Becca viewing Matt’s art work at his Blue Nile show.

“I had seen Matt’s show at the Nile when it opened, and saw one image in particular that I had to have! His work reminds me of Miyazaki films, in the way that houses turning into beings, multiple faces appear from different perspectives.
Nothing is as it seems.

I was prompted a week or so later, by Brandy, to go visit again for some photos. This time I had a fellow roller derby lady with me (who happens to be our go-to for Merchandise… and a fellow Art Lotto contributor), Ruthie Hogan, and she liked Matt’s work as much as I did, so she bought his Queen of Hearts image right on the spot! Her and Matt and I all figured out a plan to sell some shirts with Matt’s image on it! Locals helping locals helping non-profits. What more could you ask for?!” ~Becca

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Matt and Becca having a weirder moment.

Behind the Muse: with Misti Yoder

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Misti on the job in Millersburg, Indiana.

Misti Yoder is an Indiana based photographer but she is no stranger to Rockingham County. She was born and raised here in the Valley and plans to return in the near future. This is Misti’s first year playing the Art Lotto game and she has become a pro at using Lotto as an excuse to come home for a visit!

At the Luck of the Draw event, Misti drew the name of painter, Morgan Fink. The two girls met at sunset for photos on a horse farm outside city limits. Misti needed complete darkness for the shoot. Here’s Misti’s take on her experience that evening.

“(Her) horses name is Ryan. He is a good boy and stood so nicely when we met him…up until shooting time. I’m pretty sure heaven is right there in Port Republic. Rolling hills, a view of Massanutten Mountain from one side and full mountain ranges on the other, a quaint little pond on site and majestic horses in every direction. Breathtaking. We didn’t finish shooting until well after 10pm as we learned that sunset and complete darkness do not always coincide.” ~Misti 

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Morgan and Ryan at sunset.
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View from the horse farm. (Misti Yoder Photography)