It's funny how a building/landmark can hold so much nostalgia.
The Island View Schoolhouse in Sevierville, Tennessee is one of my favorite local landmarks. For the out-of-towners, it's about 20 minutes from Dollywood (in Pigeon Forge) and 35 minutes from the Smoky Mountain National Park (Gatlinburg) – on a good traffic day.
I never went to school here. I have simply admired it as I drove by on countless errands since I live not too far from it. It's nestled in the middle of a cow pasture, with Tennessee rolling hills behind it. It is truly picturesque country – right before you enter the highway tourist chaos of the 66 (Winfield Dunn Parkway).
It was just over a year ago that I finally got to see this place up close and personal! Thanks to an outing with the Tuesday Painters (a wonderful plein air painting group), we had the owner of the property open up the gates to allow us a close-up painting experience.
I can't believe I had a 360 view of this place, including the interior. It has a big potbelly stove that sits right in the middle but I didn't even take a picture. (Side note: a wonderfully talented artist couple has interior photos on their Christopher Robin Arts Instagram page.) I think the excitement of the morning, as well as, listening to the stories about its history had me focused on the moment. This potbelly stove isn't an original, but a local donation helps to complete the room.
ASIDE: I hate to give it away, but the bell isn't original either. It had been sold many years ago. Researching this building, you'll spot some pics with no bell. There was an effort to retrace steps to bring it back but the search came up empty. Because my blog always goes viral, maybe the right person will see this and bring it back... (All viral 3 followers...LOL!) And one last thing about the interior, apparently the chalk boards are made out of something cows love. They show evidence of being enjoyed at snack time. The front door is usually shut for this case. Only once have I seen some cows perched on the porch. (I've since deleted this pic from my phone. And just recently, as in a few days ago, I drove by seeing at least 10 buzzards roosting all over the roof. I wish I had a pic of that!)
As far as the plein air painting, it was a wonderful cool morning and many showed up to paint. It's fascinating to see how each person's style and methods interpret the very same building. But the painters weren't the only ones that showed up. To attest to the importance or excitement to this building, slowly but surely, random Joe Publics started pulling into the pasture. It started to become a history day for the area and many non-painting people gathered.
This place is fenced in. The opportunities to see this building up close are truly rare. It sits back off the road a couple hundred feet. You can see some of the distance in one of the photos and it wasn't even taken from the road. I think the owner was happy to see the crowd and seemed in his element to be telling the stories.
This turned out to be a gem of a day to see a gem of a landmark to my local area. History was my worst subject in school. But somehow, I am obsessed with historic architecture. It certainly defines an era. I wonder what people will be looking back upon from our current era? Architecture has surely changed...
The image here is a detail of the painting I did from that day. Plein air painting is special because you are out in the elements. You have to paint/draw quickly with the changing light and the limited time. This was done in March and the leaves were barely coming in on the trees. Since this day, I've wanted to paint a version with full trees and our beautiful sunny East Tennessee skies. This particular painting has sold a few large sized, framed prints. I am thinking about a postcard size just for kicks. The original is still available.
Fast forward to today. It's finally been painted with trees and skies in full affect. And here is the card version! The card has a bit of digital work to it to fall in line with the "Places" Card line, insluding hand lettering done on Procreate on the iPad.
This is number #2 in the (hopefully long) series, with the Knoxville Sunsphere being the first.
Where/what should I paint next? Thanks to the internet, all I need are photos. But it would be nice to see it in person!
More information on the building can be found on the WBIR local channel 10 news website.
This blog is made up of 100% human generated content. Including the images! All grammatical errors and photography pitfalls are my own.