Arts

Painting by WeidenheimerMany artists enjoy painting landscapes for a variety of reasons, often thinking they are easier than painting the human form, but are unaware of the pitfalls in landscapes. Clouds can be horrendous to master and amateur clouds look like suspended cotton balls in a massive swath of blue. Skies are challenging and whether artists who attempt a landscape realize it or not, trees are just as challenging. They can, however, be mastered with practice and good technique, according to artist Troy Weidenheimer. At a packed monthly Fluvanna Art Association workshop, members learned new skills about painting autumn trees.

“Children paint lollipop trees or something resembling a power plant,” he said, then discussed the shapes of trees and why they form the way they do. Those who are learning art sometimes fail to understand the science behind what they see. Weidenheimer often cautions members about the pitfalls of not looking at the shapes and perspective of objects, especially in landscapes.

“Amateurs paint flat trees, ignoring light and shadows,” he said. “We don’t seem to appreciate that it is a large three-dimensional object and for the sake of perspective, it is rounded rather than flat.”

Paintbrushes are key to recreating realistic trees.

“There is no brush that can replicate every branch and twig of a bare tree; artists give the illusion,” he said. “The Chinese use the armpit hair of a mouse.” The members laughed. He said he uses a small half-size paintbrush, which is not always easy to find. Weidenheimer said a rigger makes “clunky branches but is great for grass.” He did not recommend the stencil brush either, because it is too hard. His favorite is an oriental brush that can sweep a line easily from thick to wispy. Add a comment

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Jeffrey BlandJeffrey Bland is one of those people whom one might call a modern day Renaissance man. As an architectural designer and draftsman, Bland looks around in his environment for ideas on style and improvement. For example, he didn’t buy bamboo brushes to do his Sumi-e Japanese ink painting, he crafted his own bamboo brushes using deer and elk hair. He pursues his curiosity.

Born in Queens, N.Y., Bland showed design talent at an early age and in high school, his art teacher influenced him with her encouragement.

“She pushed me to draw objects and subjects I was uncomfortable with or felt I couldn’t do,” he said. “I have always had an interest in art and that led me into architecture.”

He received an associate’s degree in architectural design and engineering theory and ended up working for a mechanical, architectural, consulting and engineering firm as a mechanical designer and draftsman.

“After school there were positions open in the architectural and mechanical disciplines. The salary for the mechanical position was paying more than the architectural position so being young and single I went the mechanical route, but always maintained my love for art and would draw, paint and sculpt as a hobby,” he said.

As a mechanical designer he became part of the design team for new work and renovations of HVAC systems for commercial and federal buildings, including the United Nations building and World Trade Center in New York, the patent and trademark office complex in Alexandria, the Forensic Medical Center of Maryland, air traffic control towers, and renovation of the Pentagon.

He said the most challenging part of what he does is finding resources to help him figure out something he wants to do but has no idea where to begin. Add a comment

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Scott DavidIt didn’t take long for Susan Nothnagle, the accompanist for the Fluvanna Community Singers, to approach Scott David, the interim pastor at a local church, about joining the chorus after hearing him sing at a memorial service two years ago. His wife and daughter also joined as well.

Upon hearing the news that the beloved choral director, Horace Scruggs, was hanging up his baton for good, David was approached again, this time by Scruggs himself. Scruggs encouraged David to apply for the position. David had substituted as director for him multiple times with the choir. He was then contacted by the board and was asked to be interviewed.

“I was very pleased and blessed to be elected to serve the choir as director,” David said.

David is a product of the 60s and 70s, growing up during the era when singing families and groups such as the Jackson 5 and the Osmonds and TV shows like the Partridge Family were popular.

“My parents and three brothers traveled around Michigan for many years singing in churches. I continued to sing with my brothers in high school,” he said. He remained active in church with singing groups, choirs and bands. At age 20 he joined the Army, which eventually brought him to Virginia where he met his wife.

He attended Christopher Newport University (CNU) working on a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in vocal performance. While at CNU, he led musical programs at three churches in the Newport News area. After leaving CNU he continued to lead music programs full-time in churches for 20 years.

Some were disappointed when they heard Scruggs was leaving. Anyone taking his place might have some large shoes to fill. But those who have performed with David look forward to working with him.

“The Fluvanna Community Singers have a reputation for presenting great music with excellence. It also has a history of accomplished directors. I was blessed to sit under Horace’s leadership and learn from him,” said David. “Not only is Horace an excellent director, he is proficient on the piano and other instruments and he can write music. He is also a very kind and humble person. His shoes are too big for me to fill. I hope to build on the excellent foundation he has left with the singers.”

David said that choral music provides the platform to create a unique and powerful musical sound that can only result when many people combine their vocal gifts. Add a comment

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Chris NothnagleIn middle school in 1966, a shop teacher showed interest in three students out of a class of 20. Chris Nothnagle, along with the two other classmates, sat at their own table, continually working with what he called “the utmost encouragement.”

After that class Nothnagle said he envisioned that he would one day have his own shop. The vision stayed with him through high school and college until he could afford tools a little bit at a time. Nothnagle has been doing woodworking for 50 years.

The first pieces he designed were after college when he started working and had a basic two-room flat. One room functioned as the shop and the other room was his bedroom. He started by reading woodworking magazines and following diagrams and procedures to build projects from plans given. With experience, he was able to make his own plans to build what he saw or visualized.

“The length of time to finish a piece depends on how many times I have built one,” Nothnagle said. “For any new project I start with the prototype, then I make adjustments until I am pleased with the result. After three constructions I can go into mass production. If it is a special piece I may work on it for a month or more. My longest project was an oriental desk set that had Asian motifs.”

Nothnagle’s work is amazingly intricate. The painstaking attention to detail is obvious in the execution of his designs. Known for his checkerboard cutting boards, pepper mills, tables and even wooden cell phone holders, Nothnagle not only produces beautiful work but keeps function in mind.

“Currently I am making three dimensional-looking cutting boards that are a challenge to meet the precise cutting arrangements,” he said. Some of Nothnagle’s favorite challenges have been Queen Anne antiques with cabriole legs. But for Nothnagle, designing and building something unique is not just a hobby but therapy. Add a comment

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Linda Bethke paintingThis year, the annual People’s Choice Award Show, sponsored by the Fluvanna Art Association (FAA), was full of surprises. It featured a variety of artists and an eclectic mix of mediums. Unlike the annual show judged by a professional, the public chooses the three best in each category.

Also, School Board member Carol Carr stopped by the show and reception to accept a check for $500. Of that total $250 will go to the Fluvanna County High School art department and $250 will support the Fluvanna Middle School art department. The proceeds came from the recent art tag sale held in July. Carr also had a look around and talked with artists.

As art itself evolves, so do the methods and tools contemporary artists use. No longer is art in its purest form the norm. The subjects were wide and varied, from abstracts to landscapes, collage, still life photography, illustrations, wood carvings and unfinished work. It was a difficult choice for many. Add a comment

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