“See, this could be a difficult area to paint,” said Jan Hodson as she moved her palette knife in small strokes across the canvas.
For the better part of my lunch break Thursday, I watched the artist as she mixed paint, applied texture and blended colors.
Hodson was participating in an “Interacting with Art” event at Expressions Art Gallery & Framing in Sheridan. Any community member off the street — like me — is welcome to walk into her pop-up studio.
“(The series) really brings art alive,” said Wanda Kerns, Expressions owner and operator. “It gives people the opportunity to meet the artist…and inspires people to be more creative themselves.”
Indeed, during the event, I met Catherine Kusel, a newer artist whose own work was being framed.
“I always learn a huge amount (at these events) because I don’t have any formal training,” Kusel told me. “(Jan) has already helped me today.”
As we crowded behind her easel, I felt a pang of anxiety for Hodson.
“How do you feel about people looking over your shoulder?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t mind it,” Hodson replied. “It’s like anything else: Just doing it once gets you over the timidity.”
Hodson did seem comfortable, painting at her own pace throughout the afternoon. She agreeably answered any questions and occasionally narrated her process, throwing in Bob Ross-style tips.
But most of the time, we were silent. I was surprised by how peaceful, almost meditative, I felt watching Hodson build golden aspen with bold strokes of thick oil paint. Shinrin-yoku — the Japanese term for the healing way of “forest bathing” — came to mind, but I was in the middle of town.
By the time I headed back to my office, a rich autumnal scene had blossomed on her easel.
Thanks to all of you who reached out with arts-and-culture happenings across Sheridan County this week. In addition to “Interacting with Art,” I enjoyed:
• WYO Film Festival: Justin Stroup curated a fantastic selection of films screened over three days at Whitney Center for the Arts and the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center last weekend. I loved meeting the filmmakers, many of whom underlined how special the annual festival is.
• Autumn in Italy: My husband and I taught our seasonal cooking class at Verdello last Saturday and — all triteness aside — learned as much from our students as they did from us.
• Hearts of Glass: I was not able to attend Sheridan College’s screening of “Hearts of Glass,” an award-winning documentary about sustainable food production and disability rights. However, I touched base with Catherine Wheeler, the northeast reporter for Wyoming Public Media, who moderated the panel discussion.
“What I heard from the audience in their questions was a thoughtful consideration of how to make their community better,” Wheeler told me. “And I think the film did provoke those questions that maybe people weren’t otherwise thinking about.”
• Fall Into Art: The second edition of The Brinton Museum’s October series was about the rare Blackfeet war shirt and leggings on view in the American Indian Gallery. As I found last week, the event is well worth the scenic drive to Big Horn.
• Mini Art Auction: Wyoming Wilderness Association hosted its 13th annual event celebrating the beauty of our wildlands Friday night. The festivities were complete with food, drink and music.
• Ucross reception: Friday night also included an art reception for the Big Red Barn’s gorgeous new exhibit, “Metamorphoses: An Act of Poetic Imagination.” Check it out before Dec. 6.
Coming up, I look forward to:
• Movie night: The Press is hosting a movie night at Luminous tonight. We have been planning this since June — remember when it was supposed to be outside? — so I’m thrilled it’s happening. See you there! I’ll be the Marty McFly lookalike.
• Live music: Luminous is hosting an “old timey jam” performance Tuesday.
• Fall Into Art: The Brinton is back at it Thursday.
• WYO Gala: Saturday’s “Catch Me If You Can: The Musical” is going to be beyond fabulous. The gala will feature delicious refreshments from Frackelton’s, creative auction items and — of course — fantastic theater performed by local musicians, actors and dancers. (Get tickets here!)
• Daniel Gwirtzman: In addition to Sunday’s performance at Whitney Center for the Arts, this New York-based dance company will participate in workshops across the community.
Is there a local arts-and-culture event I have to check out? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.