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During ‘Wine Down and Create,’ art teachers have improved own talents

Since March, Patt Legg and Carol Dunkley have been teaching weekly Wine Down and Create classes. Not only have they brought artwork to folks who had no idea they could paint, they’ve improved their own talents as well.

Patt credits Carol for helping her loosen up her previously classical method in oil painting. A show by Patt recently opened at Green Goat Gallery in Spencer, a set of acrylic paintings that explore decidedly darker themes.

And that’s OK with Patt, because she knows artists tend to go through different periods, and different types of artistic expression.

“I was already heading that way,” Patt says of her new direction. “I’m going to try more of letting go, loosening up my style. This set of paintings is all palette knife technique.”

That is, globbing paint onto a palette knife and applying it to the canvas. Right now, she’s working with acrylics, creating texture and depth in her paintings.

“I give Carol the credit for this,” Patt says. “She really helped me. It just was time — time to step out of the box.”

In her private classes, Patt continues to teach the classical oil painting technique.

“I teach the Old Masters style,” she says. “It is a realistic style.”

But with her own work, she’s painting flowers, nudes and landscapes.

“I still have the same subject matter that I enjoy doing,” she says, noting that she’s known for still-life paintings.

She was recently commissioned to create a 30-inch by 40-inch painting of an ocean scene, and she used a palette knife to make the painting. Her client loved it, she says.

“I feel like there have been things going on in my life in the past six or eight months that have allowed me to explore more about what’s going on in my head,” Patt says.

She admits the resulting artwork is a bit darker than normal.

“I hate to say that, but it is,” she says. “I don’t really know where I’m going. I pick up a big glob of paint and put it on my palette knife and what comes out comes out. I really don’t have a story to tell about this art.”

She prefers to let viewers come up with their own interpretations.

“It feels good,” Patt says of this style. “It comes off the brush and on to the canvas. I’ve had more analysis of these paintings than ever before in my life. Still life doesn’t really show emotion. I like to show emotion. I feel like I’m moving forward. This is a good thing for me.”

Painting, she says, is a way for her to work through her emotions.

“Everybody has their own thing,” she says, whether that’s creating art or music, journaling, meditating, or practicing yoga. “Everybody needs an outlet of some kind, a way to work out their anxiety and fear. We just handle things in different ways. I’m so glad I’ve got art. It’s been my savior many times in my life.”

Patt and Carol continue to be excited about leading their weekly art classes.

“We know it’s a good outlet for people,” Patt says. “I’ve gained two students who want to go deeper with their art. People come to these sessions, and they cannot believe what they’ve created. If it helps them for just that one evening, that’s great.”

“I get to experience the joy of watching people accomplish something, who, when they walk through the door, say they can’t do it,” Carol says. “Within 30 minutes, to a person, they’re all absorbed into what they’re doing.”

She adds, “It has not changed my art because I’m already loose as a goose.”

Still, she says, “It’s a new experience for me every time people start coming through the door.”

Of Patt, Carol says, “She’s fun. She’s learning to be more flexible. She’s an incredible talent, and we work well with each other.”

The two instructors say they make a great team.

“Carol really is tops,” Patt says. “She can loosen everyone up in their paintings. These sessions are about getting your mind off something for two hours.”

And loosening up a bit.

Last week, Patt and Carol moved to a new home for their Wine Down and Create sessions, the newly opened Cartucci’s Grapevine at 209 S. Main St., the former location of the Blue Vine wine shop.

Sessions take place from 6 to 8 p.m. every Thursday. Call ahead for reservations as space is limited. Cost is $25, which includes a glass of wine, brushes and paints. You can bring your own canvas or you may purchase one when you arrive. Cartucci’s will serve a light buffet for an additional fee.

For more information about Wine Down and Create, call Patt Legg at 704-762-9647, Carol Dunkley at 704-636-0333, or visit www.winedownandcreate.com.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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