At the end of October I attended a five day/six night workshop taught by Greg Barnes. The class was called Impressionistic Landscapes: A Plein Air + In-Studio Painting & Pastels Hybrid. It was held in an amazingly beautiful location called Wildacres Retreat just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The class was taught for oils and pastels, but I got permission in advance to use my acrylics. There were 15 students in Greg's class from as far away as Texas. There were also four other workshops taking place and they were all run by Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, South Carolina. The Redux group were the only people using the facility for the week. There were three buffet meals a day in the dining hall and three extra events hosted by Redux including a Halloween party bonfire.
Greg's classes were held mornings from 9:15 to 12:15 and included instructor demos and student painting time. Afternoons were free painting time (outside or indoors) and included more demos and critiques. We also took an afternoon class field trip to a nearby apple orchard. One afternoon four of us drove to Crabtree Falls where we hiked down to draw and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The other workshops offered by Redux were Passionate Pastels with Michael White, Form, Finishes, & Fire Ceramics with Annette Sidner and Seth Barendse, Luminous Watercolor with Dwight Rose, and Nature's Bounty Journaling with Catherine Cross Tzintos.
Our rooms were basic, rustic, clean and had private baths. The staff was friendly and the grounds were beautiful. Sharmila Dey offered free yoga classes before breakfast and I attended them 4 out of 5 mornings. I hope to continue as a beginner yoga practitioner and I wish I could have brought her home with me. There was a massage and bodywork therapist available for appointments and I was gifted an amazing hour long session with Rachel Swinney by a friend here at home.
Greg Barnes was an excellent instructor. I took lot of notes and enjoyed his demos. There were many interesting and talented students in the class. Because I traveled alone (and upgraded to a solo room thanks to Covid) I made a point of sitting with different people at meals. It was an awesome experience all around.
I love the mountains and the scenery at Wildacres Retreat really spoke to my personal artistic esthetic. These days I tend to work larger and I end up back at the same site for multiple sessions over a period of days. There, I concentrated on doing smaller studies and working with a more limited palette. Eventurally my love of color came through and I added more color to paintings there. Below are some of the paintings I did at the workshop with Greg.
It’s been too long since I’ve been away. Combining my work with travel was the perfect solution. I can’t imagine a better way to have spent a beautiful week in October. I hope one day I can go back and do it again!