ABINGDON, Va. — It’s a bright morning at the William King Museum of Art. Laura Blankenship has her studio door open to the summer sun.
“I have this huge garage door. And where I spend most of time outside, I love having it open,” Blankenship said. “So this is never closed.”
At 31, Blankenship is one of the newest resident artists at the William King Museum of Art — with a studio operated inside the newly opened Art Lab. She moved into her studio Aug. 15.
She practices portraits, just like she had for years, painting the likenesses of musicians.
Only, now, her art business focuses on plain people portraits.
You come to Blankenship as a model or with a photograph or yourself — or someone else — and Blankenship creates a canvas of that likeness.
“I’m most interested in the human experience, expressing emotion through use of color and form, and the feeling my art inspires in the viewer, rather than realism,” Blankenship said. “I specialize in the human figure, nudes and faces and also enjoy working with abstracts and pets.”
To Williamsburg and back
Growing up in Abingdon, Virginia, Blankenship graduated from John S. Battle High School in 2007. Then she earned a degree in psychology while also studying fine art at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Later, she enhanced her art skills and knowledge while studying at the Penland School of Crafts in the mountains of North Carolina.
Blankenship lives in Abingdon today. But, for a recent year, she relocated to Limestone, Tennessee, a small community about halfway between Greeneville and Jonesborough.
“For many years, I was inspired to go to paint musicians while they played,” Blankenship said. “So, in the past, you can say my specialty was sketches and painting in the style of expressionism and capturing the energy and emotion of musicians.”
Blankenship made such portraits while setting up her easel at Bristol’s Rhythm & Roots Reunion.
“Now, that was translated into working more one-on-one, doing portraits and doing paintings for people who are interested in evoking quality or having the emotion of the work portrayed.”
“I work best with color to express emotion,” she said. “I dedicate myself to my work. That is my child.”
Eggs and oil
Mainly, Blankenship uses acrylics and oil. But, even then, she likes to get creative.
Recently, she’s been mixing and making her own paints, using local eggs. “It’s a very old style of painting, maybe one of the oldest,” Blankenship said.
This artist also paints murals and recently worked on a piece at Green Cove, Virginia, near Whitetop Mountain.
“My artwork has evolved over the years,” Blankenship said. “But, no matter what, I’m always following my passion and my heart.”
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