By Sarah Richardson
Lewisburg artist Jeanne Brenneman began painting in 1972… and never stopped.
If you’ve ever seen a watercolor painting of a Lewisburg building, chances are that it’s a Brenneman! Her impressive career has led her to opening a permanent studio space/classroom at Lee Street Studios in Lewisburg, which is packed full of originals and prints for sale. Studio 6 is shared by her husband, Bruce Brenneman, a woodturner, and artist Margy Green.
She has won too many awards to count at a mix of local, state, and national juried art exhibitions. Her paintings of all types of nature scenes and area buildings are popular with locals and visitors alike.
We visited Jeanne in her studio to ask her about her artistic career and where she finds her inspiration.
Can you tell the readers what your art mediums are?
“Well, it’s always been watercolors, first and foremost. I like to try things, but I always come back to watercolor. It’s just the most fun medium, far more versatile, I think, than any other medium. Simple, easy to use, easy to clean up, easy to take places. I just have always gravitated toward it from the very beginning from the very first class I ever took, which was a watercolor class. I’m never going to put that aside! I’ve dabbled around in other things just for fun, because that’s part of the adventure, seeing what’s out there that I might be interested in trying. I do love teaching classes, because people who are intimidated by watercolor because they’ve always been told how unforgiving and difficult it is can find out that it doesn’t have to be. People can get good results right from the beginning with it, so I love teaching classes and letting people discover that. It’s an addiction, I guess.”
What would you say your main sources of inspiration are?
“Anything having to do with nature. I love gardening, I love growing flowers, we love going out in the woods and watching wildlife, and all those sorts of things. My husband is a forester, so we’ve spent a lot of time in the woods. I love of the things that I’m interested in painting come from that. The other thing around here is all of the historic things, the old buildings and the old things from other generations. I like to paint things that have a historic significance or a traditional feel to them. I’d say those are the main two. I’ve done photography since I was 8 or 9 years old, tagging along after my older brother who did photography, so a lot of my paintings come from photographs that I’ve taken.”
“Overall, I try to paint how it feels, not just how it looks. That’s a really big part of it.”
Why have your studio here at Lee Street Studios?
“I think that it’s nice to be close to a group of people who all have similar interests, and who are interested in creating something. Particularly the old school room itself has such wonderful big high ceilings and walls that I can really put up a lot of art on. I wouldn’t be able to put up this much in a gallery somewhere. Right now I don’t really have any other gallery in Lewisburg since the WV Fine Artisans closed several years ago. So now, if somebody wants to see some of my work, this is the best place to come.”
Where can people purchase your work?
“Here at the studio, and I have a box of prints at Plants Etc. of mostly local prints of buildings in town, and I have many of those prints because I get them printed here locally. Every time I paint an 11”x15” painting, I go get 5 or 10 prints made of it. For all the years I’ve been painting, I have a lot of different prints! It’s a nice way to allow people to have an image where they don’t have to pay the cost of an original. They are a very good quality, very lightfast, and they won’t fade when you hang them on the wall. I also have a few matted prints at Tamarack, and some in bins, but it’s hard to keep very many there at a time. So here at Lee Street and Plants Etc. are the best places to find prints.”
At her studio you can find a plethora of prints and originals in various sizes and in different price ranges, with a large selection of prints between $25-$50. She also hosts two watercolor classes every Saturday at Studio 6, one from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and the other from 1 to 3 p.m. She can have up to 6 people at one time, and the cost is $12 per participant. If you’d like to take a class, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Lee Street Studios is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is located at 232 Lee Street N., Lewisburg, in the old elementary school.