There are definitely “Mountain Vistas” in Valle Crucis ― even indoors ― in Alta Vista Gallery’s new show with that title, featuring oils by Sheila Wood Hancock, an Impressionist who excels at painting High Country landscapes.
On Saturday, July 23, the public is invited to meet the artist at the show’s opening reception from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served. The show is hanging now through August 15.
“This show features 30 new oils by Hancock ― all of them High Country scenes, many depicting the panoramic vistas we enjoy here,” says gallery owner Maria Santomasso-Hyde.
“However, Hancock is offering a variety of subjects: rivers, lakes, farms, barns, a red canoe, bird nests, and cow portraits. She is also offering a variety of sizes ― from 5 by 5 inch paintings that could be given as gifts, up to 30 by 40 inch canvases that would be the focal point of a room over a fireplace, or in a foyer,” says Hyde.
Hancock says, “I painted the vista paintings because it gives me such pleasure to look out over the mountains. To me, that expresses most of all the vistas in the world, the wonders of God’s creation.
“I also love to paint the sweet faces of our mountain cows. Those, as well as the bird nest paintings, bring me so much joy. I’m really thankful that my customers love these cows and nests as much as I do, so that I can paint lots of them!”
Hancock says she also likes to include cows in her landscape paintings, “because they add life to a landscape, and they are a lovely contrast to all the lush greenery we have here. Seeing cows against the backdrop of our beautiful mountains near my home in Boone always relaxes me.
“While I was painting these new pieces, I tried very hard to impart the feelings that I have when I see our mountains―whether it be on a day with a beautiful clear blue sky, or on a misty morning.
“I want the viewer of my paintings to be able to smell the grass, to feel the freshness of the mountain streams, and to enjoy seeing the barns and farms that will one day be a thing of the past, and I’m honored to help preserve them in my paintings.”
Hancock, who has been painting since childhood, is an award-winning painter who has studied in Europe and also won the honor of having a painting permanently hung in the Governor’s Mansion. She says the chief influence on her work has been the 19th century French painters who began the Impressionist movement.
“I hope that my paintings capture our mountains, barns, cows, and streams in the same way that the French Impressionists captured their everyday local scenes,” says Hancock.
“The painter that influenced me the most is Claude Monet. His work has very loose brush strokes, and that is something that I’m always striving to do ― to have a loose brushstroke to allow the viewer to be able to put more of himself into the painting. Monet’s paintings are like that; the viewer can walk right into it.
“Monet’s work is also very atmospheric, and that is always a goal for me too, especially since our Blue Ridge Mountains have an atmospheric quality in their blueness, and we also have so many misty mornings that I love to convey in paintings.”
As a former psychologist before becoming a fulltime artist, Hancock enjoys the fact that customers say that her paintings make them feel relaxed. “Then, the bit of red that I include adds warmth to those cool, calming colors; it gives balance,” says Hancock.
“Mostly, I’m a tonalist painter, but this year I ramped up the color in my paintings, and I’m really enjoying it. All these beautiful colors just make me happy.”
Customers are happy too, says Hyde. “Every year, Hancock is one of my top-selling artists.”
Alta Vista Gallery hosts receptions on every fourth Saturday, from June through November, as part of the “Tour de Art.” (Tour maps are available at Alta Vista and at the other sites on the tour.)
The August 27 reception will feature award-winning plein air painter Jeremy Sams showing 23 new acrylics in a show titled, “I Saw the Light.”
Alta Vista Gallery shows 100 artists in oils, watercolors, pastels, and prints, as well as stained glass, sculptures, handmade jewelry, art tiles, and Mangum Pottery.
The gallery is located just minutes from Boone, in a National Register of Historic Properties farmhouse at 2839 Broadstone Road, Valle Crucis ― between Mast Farm Inn and Mast Store Annex.
For more information, including a map and directions, visit the gallery on Facebook, or at www.altavistagallery.com, or call the gallery at 828-963-5247.