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Plein air painting class students turned 'what now' canvases into works of art

The "before photo" painting of Georgia artist Eve Tidwell in advance of her breakthrough acrylic painting workshop held at Dovecote on July 17, 2014.
The "before photo" painting of Georgia artist Eve Tidwell in advance of her breakthrough acrylic painting workshop held at Dovecote on July 17, 2014.
Courtesy of Georgia artist Eve Tidwell

Georgia artist Eve Tidwell has been painting for 15 years, and she told the Examiner on July 18 that the object of her Dovecote plein air painting class in acrylics this week was to transform old "what now?" canvases into new works of art. So she didn't want those attending the class to remove the art from the canvases they brought, but rather to turn each one into a totally different new painting.

Aspiring artist and plein air acrylic painting workshop participant holds the painted canvas she will transform at Dovecote's summer lecture series with Georgia artist Eve Tidwell.
Courtesy of Georgia artist Eve Tidwell

Judging by the photos she provided, the Thursday event was a smashing success. And the photo showing Tidwell's own "what now?" canvas (after it was transformed into a new painting) speaks volumes for her talent in this regard.

Painting while sitting or standing in the great outdoors can be a refreshing change from an indoor office or studio setup, and those in attendance at this week's Dovecote event appear to have enjoyed every minute of it. Even masters in the field have longed to take paintbrush in hand and do their greatest work outdoors.

The French painting master Matisse favored plein air (outdoor) painting, according to James Morgan's book "Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream":

Under Director Jules Degrave, color and painting en plein air were prohibited. Matisse bridled under such restrictions."

The author further notes that in the end, despite a new young assistant director coming to the school, encouraging "open door" painting, the director made an example of his disdain for such by "expelling Matisse for painting outdoors."

Doing everything outdoors is key to the summer lecture series at the Dargans' residential and retail property, from the creation of miniature fairy gardens to plein air painting or learning floral arranging. The latter of which will be the topic and activity for the next Thursday event to be held on July 24.

The plein air "art breakthrough" painting workshop led by Eve Tidwell was part of the summer lecture series at the Dargan Dovecote Porch in Cashiers, N.C., and it ran from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on July 17. And like most of the Thursday lectures held there this summer, this one was free and open to the public. (A charge does apply to some events, such as those related to food, and supply or book needs while in attendance at an activity can result in a fee, so it is best to check their website for details in advance of the scheduled activity).

The Examiner asked Tidwell to share what it was like for her to be the artist featured at this week's event, and what she felt the students learned from the experience. And this is what she had to say:

[The] first thing I think everybody got from this was that it is an incredible that we all are artists, whether we paint, or write, or just dress ourselves. We choose colors; we look at colors, so we are all artists. And I think that myth of 'oh, I couldn't draw a stick figure,' is gone."

The second thing I really liked is they saw outside the box of their own painting style. They looked at the way they paint, and I gave them a couple of ideas on how to change the thought. And as soon as you change the thought, change the vibration, and you're painting because something you love."

Fortunately for Examiner readers, the Georgia artist has graciously shared how you can have your own plein air painting experience at your home, complete with tips on how to transform a Goodwill canvas of your own, if you don't already have one to paint. And those tips will be forthcoming in the next Atlanta Pop Culture Examiner's column. So be sure to subscribe to it.

In closing, we asked Tidwell what she thought of the owners of Dovecote, who take the time to provide their North Carolina community with free creative offerings all summer long:

Mary Palmer and Hugh Dargan had transformed my life with the outside, so I was so excited to get to paint outside; something I had never been able to do. And all of these artists enjoyed the environment of this little place we were in called Dovecote. Thank you very much Mary Palmer for letting me come."

But even more touching is what she said about her husband, Dr. Jack Tidwell, who, thanks to him, she says all things are possible in her life.

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