By Aila Boyd
Editor’s note: This article is the 11th in a series of articles that will feature all 14 artists who will be participating in the 2019 Open Studios-Botetourt tour on October 26 and 27. Each week leading up to the two-day event, The Herald will feature one artist – highlighting their passion for their chosen artform.
From an early age, Judith Lochbrunner, a Troutville-based artist, possessed an interest in art. Luckily, she didn’t live too far from Charles Vickery, a well-known artist who died in 1998, and his twin sister, who regularly gave art lessons to local children. Growing up, she regularly went over to Vickery’s art studio, which she described as being “exotic” to her juvenile eyes, for lessons. “I had a rather wonderful introduction to art,” Lochbrunner said.
Her love for learning about art continued throughout her time in high school and college. “I started out more realistic when I did oil paintings. They were pretty much based on what was around me or what I visited. Over time, my paintings became a bit more expressive,” Lochbrunner said. “I won’t worry about things being perfect. I worry about things working well. There’s a big difference there. I’m not so worried about the details, but the overall feeling of the painting.”
Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, she traveled to Texas so that she could pursue a liberal arts degree at the Southern Methodist University. While there, she met her husband. Although they bounced around different parts of Texas, they had no intentions of leaving the state.
However, an opportunity led them to New England. It didn’t take long for them to fall in love with the mountains.
In keeping with their love of the mountains, Lochbrunner and her husband eventually decided to settle in Botetourt in 2004, which certainly has its share of mountainous views.
After settling in Botetourt, Lochbrunner met Vera Dickerson, a fellow Open Studios-Botetourt artist, who urged her to start using acrylics, which she hadn’t used since college, again. “They had changed a lot for the better,” Lochbrunner said of acrylics.
Her painting schedule varies depending upon the season. An avid gardener, Lochbrunner likes to spend as much time outside as possible. The dog days of summer and the frigid days of winter are her most productive when it comes to her art because she’s not able to roam around outside.
However, she has found a way to combine her love of painting and the outdoors in more recent years. She frequently does plein air (outdoor) painting now with her fellow Open Studios-Botetourt artist Mary Ann Meador. The two of them are constantly finding new locations throughout the county that inspire them. “I’ve really learned a lot from plein air painting. It’s been a challenge, but it’s interesting. There are so many great places to look at around here,” she said. “You take what you have from the space. Plein air artists can take a look at one of their studies and remember everything about the day because they spent so much time focused on it.”
In terms of process, Lochbrunner said that she absolutely hates starting with a blank canvas. “I have to throw something on the canvas, before I can start working on it,” she said.
This year marks Lochbrunner’s third year as an Open Studios-Botetourt participant. When the annual event first started, she helped some of the other artists coordinate their demonstrations.
“It’s such a nice event. It takes a lot of time to drive around the county, so the people who do it are really excited about it,” she said of Open Studios-Botetourt.
Lochbrunner said that she plans on answering a lot of questions. Most people know oil and watercolor, she said, but the acrylic tends to be more of a point of confusion. “It’s different. I like acrylic because of its versatility because you can thin it down and almost make a watercolor-looking painting with it or you can thicken it up and make it like oil,” she said of acrylic. “It has a lot of different personalities, so you can make it change.”
For more information about Open Studios-Botetourt, visit: https://openstudiosbotetourt.com/