Painting again!

JC scenery  For years and years, I’ve promised myself a trip to the fabulous John C. Campbell Folk School, located in the mountains near Murphy, N.C.  Established over 90 years ago, this school is famous for its classes in many (47!) artistic mediums:  blacksmithing, pottery, weaving, spinning, printmaking, music, leatherwork, lace tatting, cooking, gardening, all types of painting, bead-making, dyeing, photography, quilting, needlework, wood carving, basketry and lots, lots more.  Their inspiring instructors come from all over the U.S.  Classes are kept small for individual attention, and it’s a committed non-competitive environment.  My dear cousin and I went for the “Plen air Landscape Painting” class, with internationally known artist Mary Jane Volkmann.

Forty years ago, I painted a half-dozen landscapes with a friend who painted well, but haven’t touched a brush since then.  Before I become too palsied to hold a brush steady with eyesight too murky to see colors clearly, I wanted to paint again.  The Folk School was a perfect way to jump back in.   JC view It’s located in a gorgeous part of the country on a multi-acre “campus”  with lots of open spaces and interesting buildings that have been converted into studios, classroom spaces, and various types of housing. JC log cabin   Although it looks quaint and rustic, you’ll find the latest in equipment for woodworking or photography, etc. but also the traditional tools and methods when called for.  Surrounded by woodlands, mountains, and wonderful people from all across the country just being there was a delight. JC bench No matter where you turn, there is art in evidence, whether by former students or teachers, or by Mother Nature!       JC herb garden   Imagine my delight, when I looked out the window of my assigned housing, to see an herb garden below!  Fate had no doubt planned this lovely surprise just for me.  Whenever I got frustrated with my brush, I calmed by touching leaves of my faithful friends:  rosemary, basil, sage, thyme and more.  Here’s Davidson House, where I lodged.  Davidson Hall  Photo was taken from the herb garden.  We were on the second floor.  The “Fiddle” class was on the bottom floor during the day!  There are flowers and gardens everywhere, and small spaces to just sit and contemplate or dream.  JC flowers

The week of morning and afternoon classes sped by exceedingly fast, but I learned SO MUCH.  I will never look at the world before me in the same way again.  Now every view, every sky, every tree is studied for its light value, the perspective, its prospect as a subject for a future painting.  My cousin, Eve, and I (standing) enjoyed not only the painting and beautiful setting, but our time together.Eve & I painting I managed to do 3 paintings, plus some value and color studies.   The important thing is that it boosted my confidence, not to mention my abilities, and sky-rocketed my desire to put paint on canvas!

Here’s the dining hall.  JC Dining Hall The food was delicious and plentiful, served family-style.  So delicious, in fact, that I gained 6 pounds!  (Obviously, my self-restraint was entirely on vacation as well!)   Lots of the food comes from the extensive gardens and the herb garden.  There’s even a small flock of chickens to patrol for bugs.  JC chickens There were lots of evening activities from local tours, to readings, folk dancing, and concerts but I was too tired (too old!!) to manage attending those. Exhibit I did attend the exhibit at week’s end of all the items various classes had made, and it was truly amazing.  That’s the work of our class above.  Pretty impressive since some people had never painted at all!  Everyone exhibited at least one work.  In case you’re wondering, mine are the ones bottom row right “Three trees and mountains” and far right on the same table is “tree trunks and road.”  The interaction with fellow classmates was so supportive, and we all choked up a bit as it was time to say farewell.

If going to a beautiful setting, with great people to learn more about an artistic venture appeals to you, please go to and click on the “Find a Class” button on the top right.  You won’t believe the opportunities that await!  I’m hoping to take a class on making kaleidoscopes and another painting class soon!   JC Craft shop  Even if you can’t squeeze in a class, a visit to the fabulous Craft Shop is an enlightening experience.  Not only will you find the best of works by the instructors, but also by the area’s talented crafters.


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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14 Responses to Painting again!

  1. Wow, this sounds so awesome!! On my list to go one day!!!


  2. How exciting! And what a wonderful way to spend a vacation. Glad you had an a awesome time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mala Burt says:

    I totally connected with this post. I’ve dabbled with watercolors but my writing, gardening and volunteer activities have pushed painting aside. Like you I hope to get back to it before palsy and eyesight make it impossible. I always thought I would learn to tapdance but the knees finally vetoed that pipe dream.


    • carolee says:

      Right now, it’s my writing that’s pushed to the sidelines, but I may get back to it during the cold, bleak months when I can’t be outdoors. There never seems to be enough time to do all we want, is there? The Folk School has some fantastic watercolor classes coming up….just sayin’!


  4. sarasinart says:

    What a wonderful place!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Now, that looks amazing! Reminds me of the setting of a humorous mystery I recently read, which you might enjoy. “Gone Gull” by Donna Andrews. (All of the titles in the series appear to be bird-based puns.)
    So glad you got to paint again in such a lovely place.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, what an amazing, inspiring place to attend classes! Everything about it appeals to me. If I lived near there I would go to them all! It’s great that you have got into painting again. Your paintings are lovely! A class on making kaleidoscopes sounds like so much fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Oh well done on biting the bullet and doing some painting after all those years. It must have been so satisfying to achieve those beautiful paintings over the duration of the workshop.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. bcparkison says:

    I have known about this for a long time but never been. Would be fun.


  9. Congrats on such beautiful paintings. You are a very talented artist. I wish I lived closer because that school has some really interesting classes.


    • carolee says:

      I met people from Seattle, California, New York, Wisconsin…..really there were people from nearly every state there plus Canada. Some people come several times a year, some once every year. The catalog of classes really has something for everyone, especially in the wood and fabric area. The instructors are top notch. There is a shuttle from Atlanta airport.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Lorin Small says:

    Good for you! I hope to see many more post as you develop you style and technique.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. JOY journal says:

    Sounds wonderful. Paint like the wind!

    Liked by 1 person

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