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Pittman Gallery to open Winter Exhibition

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'Lobsters' by Jaquelin Perry is one of the works to be featured in the winter exhibition in the Pittman Gallery at the Blount-Bridgers House.

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From Contributed Reports

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The winter exhibition in the gallery at Tarboro’s historic Blount-Bridgers House will feature three very popular painters from northeastern North Carolina.

Jaquelin Perry, Fen Rascoe and Fred Saunders have lived within hollering distance from each other and entertained themselves on many an afternoon painting together in the open air.

“Fred (Saunders) has been a mentor to Fen and me,” Perry said. “He has always been so enthusiastic about our getting outside and painting from life. Consequently, the three of us painted together as often as we could, or two of us at a time, in and around Bertie County.”

A collection of recent plein air and alla prima studio works from these three exceptional painters will be exhibited from Feb. 7 until March 30 with an opening reception in the gallery from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 sponsored by Edgecombe Arts and friends of the artists.

The Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery, located in the Blount-Bridgers House, is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and at other times by appointment by calling 252-823-4159.

Perry lives in Colerain, a small town in the northeastern corner of the state just west of the Albemarle Sound. The rural area offers no shortage of inspiration, from old barns to scenic fields of cotton, corn, peanuts, soybean and sage. Her husband grows it all on their farm.

Feeling so blessed to live in beautiful eastern North Carolina, she says ”everywhere I look there are endless possibilities for new paintings. My goal is to paint daily, striving every day to improve my painting skills and find my own path as an artist. I try to paint from life when I can, and truly love the experience of plein air painting.

“My paintings are about life,” Perry says. “During the summer, I can get outside and paint every day. The winter just doesn’t speak to me in the same way, so that’s when I head to the store to buy fresh flowers, and fruits and vegetables to set up my own still-lifes.

Perry grew up in Elizabeth City and spent summers at Nags Head. Her parents, now deceased, Bo and Jaquelin Nash Jenkins, were both Tarboro born and bred. Her mother, affectionately nicknamed “B-2” was a very talented artist who must have passed along to her daughter her enthusiasm for painting the beauty along the coast or from her backyard on the sound.

“Painting is certainly a wonderful journey that gives me tremendous gratification. I am so fortunate to have a close circle of painting pals and mentors, like Fen and Fred, that I get together with on a regular basis for painting outings and support,” she added.

Rascoe is also a farmer and lives in the Bertie County town of Windsor.

“As an artist,” he says, “my goal is to transform an ordinary everyday subject into an extraordinary unique visual experience that allows the viewer to passionately reconnect with an otherwise familiar and unemotional object or figure. Whether painting in plein air or in the studio, I strive to simplify my subject into an uncomplicated three-dimensional artistic tale that allows the viewer to jump in and become part of the experience.”

Rascoe grew up drawing all of the time and took several art classes in high school and college. Never giving art much consideration professionally until recently, it was twenty years until he would pick up a brush again in the winter of 2010. He has studied under several nationally renowned artists and has spent most of his time outside painting plein air in the flatlands and coastal regions of Eastern North Carolina.

Rascoe paints Alla Prima, or wet-on-wet, all in one session and his style could be considered Contemporary Impressionism. He credits the sun in making the decision to stop when he’s painting on location. He calls it his stopwatch alarm.

“I paint within the moment either on location or still life.When the shadow of an old beat up truck is now on the left side after it was on the right side when you started, it's time to pack it up or just go home. With plein air painting one has to paint fast to capture the light that caught the eye in the first place and, taking a plein air painting back to the studio to "touch up" can destroy the spontaneity and looseness of the original pass,” he says. “I even leave the gnats stuck in my wet paintings.”

When studio painting, Rascoe says he keeps a plein air mindset: Keep it loose, spontaneous and try to finish it Alla Prima — all in one session. My patience and attention span, or lack thereof, drives that desire to get it done. Don't rush it or cut corners, but don't overwork it. Put the brush down and sign it.

Rascoe recalls his first plein air experience with Dr. Fred Saunders.

“Earlier that year, artist Fred Saunders took me out on my first plein air session near his hometown of Aulander, and I was hooked from that moment on,” he said. “The second time he took me out, we went to the Speller Farm between Windsor and Williamston on the Roanoke River. I created a painting of Dr. Fred blocking-in two barns on that second trip.” 

“Throughout that year, he gave me priceless instruction and advice that I could never repay, but I felt that I was ready to paint him in his element and at least give him something back for his selfless time and knowledge given to me.”

Saunders resides with his wife, Lois, at Cypress Glenn, a retirement community in Greenville. He is a native of Aulander in Bertie County. He earned his undergraduate degree and later a medical degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. In the mid-1950s, he served in the Army in the Korean Conflict as a doctor in a MASH unit similar to the one depicted in the 1970's sitcom "M*A*S*H."

Saunders returned to his hometown where he and wife raised three children and he practiced family medicine until 2004. He first started drawing in the sixth grade and became interested in painting in watercolors in the 1970s and studied under Virginia artist Ralph Smith from 1982 until 2005.

Saunders has painted in oils since 2001 focusing mainly on the beautiful landscapes and rural and maritime architecture of Eastern North Carolina and Virginia. During Smith’s workshops they began their two-man plein air outings travelling around eastern North Carolina and the Outerbanks, Virginia, Maine, New Mexico the Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy and Canada. He discovered that painting plein air was the best way to learn and to design and finish a painting in one outing.

“As an artist, keep yourself stimulated by learning how to look at what’s around you; learn to understand colors, values and shapes. Paint something you love and not what others want you to paint,” he said.

Saunders does not accept commissions. He won first place with his painting titled "Oyster House" in the 25th annual Landmark Show at the Jaquelin Jenkins Gallery in the Arts of the Albemarle Center and just recently celebrated his 90th birthday at a reception featuring his work at the Bertie County Arts Council in Windsor.

Works by Perry, Rascoe and Saunders can be found in galleries in Greenville, Manteo, Beaufort and Edenton.

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