Reflections: Burnsville Painting Classes

My favorite place was the “Burnsville Painting Classes” (SeeCelo) in North Carolina. John Bryan and Everret Kivette were teachers there who took over the classes started by Frank Stanley Herring and his wife, Frances. I attended classes there in the summer for two weeks over the course of ten years. The criticism was frank but never cutting.

We mostly stayed at the Nu Wray Inn which had wonderful country food—a huge breakfast with grits, ham, etc. and dinner with vegetables and southern cooking. I would paint all morning at the studio on the mountain, come back eat lunch, paint all afternoon, eat dinner, sit on the porch and watch all the people go by. My favorite place to do work was early morning or late afternoon on the front porch of the Nu Wray Inn.

The studio was perfect. Located on the side of the mountain with a large first floor room filled with easels and model stands, a large stairway leading up to the balcony with a second floor for students to stay, and a huge window with northern light. The porch was a wraparound kind where you could do still life or paint outside. It was beautiful up there and very quiet.

My favorite paintings up there were of the studio and the people painting. The last time at the studio I stayed in the crow’s nest, a room on the very top of the studio. It was very lonely there, but one of my best works came out of it. It was a refection in the window of the of a dark figure with a cross and the sun rising . It was a large pastel and a friend’s daughter bought it before she became ill.

Another favorite work was The Family at the Trailer Camp. We went out painting one day to do a mountain scene, and I saw this wonderful family of girls on the porch. I did some drawing then and later a large work that collectors from Florida bought.

I also created many watercolors and pastels, mostly from models. I particularly liked The Woman with the White Hat. The paper was not big enough so I had to use two sheets. Everett Kivette was a master with pastels. He could do so
much with so little. He would have a tiny end of a pastel and make a beautiful drawing.

It was a perfect place to be—a vacation plus learning.

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