Editor’s Note: This is the fifth story in a series about members of the Arts Guild of the Barrens. A sixth story about another art guild member appears on page A7 of today’s paper.
For Scottsville artist Nadine Wilkerson, painting affords her an opportunity to escape from everyday life.
“I do it to get away,” she said.
She began painting approximately 12 years ago.
“I started taking watercolor classes and I’ve come to the conclusion that is the hardest medium,” Wilkerson said.
She also works with acrylics, pastels, pencil, charcoal, and most recently, oils.
She has won awards for her work in watercolor, colored pencil and charcoal. In October, she took home the Best of Show award in the 43rd Pennyroyal Juried Exhibit in Hopkinsville for a work in pastels titled “Pathways” done using the pointillism technique. She also won first place in the same competition with another pastel piece titled “Blush Rose.”
The competition was juried, so she had to send works to be evaluated just to take part in the competition.
“I submitted three pieces and they accepted two,” she said.Wilkerson enjoys entering art competitions.
“For me, it gives me some credentials that … I’m growing in the right direction, because I don’t have any formal art training behind me. I didn’t go to college for it,” she said. “Eventually I’m going to get to a certain degree of proficiency.”
Wilkerson attended college, but instead of art, she studied nursing and became a registered nurse. After graduating from nursing school, she enlisted in the Army.
“I was a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps and one of the groups I took care of were the POWs who came back in to the United States from Vietnam,” she said.
Wilkerson is originally from Pennsylvania. She met her husband, David, who hails from Texas, at the officer’s club at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio.
“After the Army, I went back and got my bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration and I got my master’s at Trinity University. To make a long story short, I ended up working for Phil Bredesen [former governor of Tennessee] back when he owned a company called Health America, before he went into politics,” she said.
When Health America sold, the Wilkersons moved to Bowling Green, where David worked for Weyerhaeuser. That is when Nadine retired, homeschooling the youngest of their two boys.
After their youngest son left home, Nadine began to look for something to do and discovered painting.
“I did it just for myself,” she said.
Nadine’s mother, Hannelore, had always painted with oils, and she, too, has won awards for her work. So, Nadine knew that creativity was genetic in her family.
She later learned a great uncle was also a painter.
“I have received an oil portrait he did of my grandmother in 1901 and it is huge,” she said. “It’s like, ‘OK, there is some family ability here.’”
The subject matter of her paintings and drawings vary.
She has progressed with her artwork to where she is now doing series of paintings, one of which is of ballerinas she is doing in oil.
Nadine is a member of several art guilds — Arts Guild of the Barrens, the Scottsville Art Guild and Art Works in Bowling Green.
“Art Works was having a collaborative event with Dance Arts of Bowling Green where they were raising money for soldier support, for their Christmas boxes,” she said. “So, they invited artists into the dance studio to take photographs or to do sketches of their students.”
The photos and sketches were then displayed in Van Meter Auditorium on Western Kentucky University’s main campus in Bowling Green.
Her experience with the fundraiser peaked an interest in ballerinas and from that the idea to do a series of five oil paintings about ballerinas was born.
“For some reason, I am fascinated with their feet,” she said.
The paintings will be on display at The Presbyterian Church on State Street in Bowling Green.
The second series of paintings she is doing focuses on Alzheimer’s. Nadine’s mother, who lives with her, suffers from the disease.
One painting she has done in relation to Alzheimer’s depicts someone walking, but shows only their feet and their shadow. It is titled “All That Remains.”
Nadine is not sure how many paintings will be in the series regarding Alzheimer’s disease, because it is an ongoing project, she said.
In addition to the two series, she has several other paintings that are works in progress.
As for her favorite, she says it is always the next one she plans to paint.
“Because while I’m in the middle of doing something, I’ll think, ‘Oh, I want to do that,’” she said. “Then it begins to get hard to finish what I’m on because I start thinking about the next one, how do to it, how to arrange it.”
Nadine exhibits her work both at 212 on the Main, the art gallery for members of the Arts Guild of the Barrens, and at Stonehaven Art Gallery at Barren River Lake State Park for which she is the curator. She is also in the process of developing a website.
“That just hooked me right in,” Jewell said. “I was so excited and it seemed like it was such a stress reliever. I was just ready to do it again, so I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Jewell has taken several classes with Kehrt.
“I took classes from her for about four years,” Jewell said.
She has also taken classes from other artists and is currently studying with Nancy Doss, a Westmoreland, Tenn., watercolorist.
“I just feel like I learn something from every one of them,” Jewell said, adding she’s not trying to copy her instructors’ styles. “I want my own style, but I can pick up something from every one of them. It just kind of pops out to me.”
Jewell prefers watercolor over other mediums, even though working with watercolors is sometimes difficult.
Of all the things she paints, Jewell enjoys architecture the best.
“It’s like it’s a challenge to me because there are always so many different angles,” she said. “Trying to make the windows set in or set out like the door offset. It’s just a challenge to get things to look right when you do buildings.”
She is known to take her painting supplies with her on vacation.
“I don’t leave it behind,” she said. “Went to Fort Pickens [Florida] this past winter and this huge fort is there on a 35-mile barrier reef. There were all kinds of artists out there with their easels, painting. That was perfect. We really enjoyed it. That fort was neat to try to sketch.”
Jewell has exhibited her work at the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce and at the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center.
She hopes to do a solo exhibit one day.
Jewell is a member of the Arts Guild of the Barrens, an organization she joined because it afforded her the opportunity to meet more artists and to be involved with something she enjoys doing.
One thing she hopes to do one day is paint portraits of her children and grandchildren, and then a group painting of all of them. She is currently working on a portrait of her parents.
Jewell said she thinks painting helps her to feel a little closer to the Lord.
“I do put in prayers when I do my painting and I ask Him or His guidance and help,” she said. “I don’t think I would enjoy it near as much if I didn’t have Him along with me.
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