Chapel Hill Art Gallery features art inspired by Mother Nature

It all started when one of Kathy Alderman’s daughters gave her a set of paints and an easel in 2005.

Now she spends her days filling others with excitement and happiness with her nature-inspired paintings, wind chimes, photography, prints, garden art and cards in galleries across North Carolina.

For the month of November, Chapel Hill Art Gallery will feature a collection of her work, entitled “Mother Nature, Beauty and Whimsy.” Alderman, who is also chairwoman of the Burlington Artists League, said the gallery has some of her newest and freshest work. She said her inspiration always comes from Mother Nature.

“In fact, I was just now sitting out in the woods getting inspired,” Alderman said.

She said she often takes photographs of the outdoors to paint from. She also uses her family for inspiration, drawing anything they suggest from trees to animals and sunsets.

Her gallery show includes brightly colored paintings of poppies, trees and seascapes, along with photographs of animals and nature.

But Alderman wasn’t always a painter. She had always drawn and sketched but wanted to wait until her kids grew up to try painting. When it came to taking her first art class, she said she was hesitant.

“All those high school and college students would be coming from advanced art classes, and I was scared I would be holding them back,” she said.

But Alderman said as soon as she signed up for adult art classes, she fell in love with painting.

“When life takes over and things get busy, I have this longing for it,” she said.

Ruth Mennom, another artist at Chapel Hill Art Gallery, said Alderman can capture still life scenes and landscapes in an amazing way.

Mennom said Alderman uses oils and acrylic, and she is always trying new techniques, including adding gold to tree leaves in her newest paintings.

In the last few years, Alderman started expanding into different mediums. She said a friend once gave her some antique flatware and silver and asked her to make something with them. So she took a handheld drill and started making wind chimes with them.

“I broke quite a few drill bits before realizing I had a drill press in my garage that did the job perfectly,” Alderman said.

Elaine Pelkey-Herrick, Alderman’s best friend and fellow Burlington Artists League member, said Alderman, one of the most optimistic people she has ever met, is so multi-talented that she can excel in every medium she tries.

“Alderman is all over the place — in a happy way,” Pelkey-Herrick said.

In addition to her paintings and wind chimes, Alderman said she attaches cups and saucers to wooden spindles to create what she calls “Garden Art.”

“You can put a candle in them, or some bird feed or just some water, and they make great grandmother gifts,” she said.

Pelkey-Herrick said Alderman is the most outgoing person she knows. When she moved to Burlington more than five years ago, she met Alderman at the Burlington Artists League, and they immediately bonded.

Pelkey-Herrick said her enthusiasm is so encouraging to everyone who tries art, from professionals to beginners.

“Alderman just jumps right in and says, ‘Oh boy!’ to everything and everyone that comes along, and her art does that, too,” Pelkey-Herrick said.

Alderman said she just wants her art to make people feel happy, peaceful and relaxed; she doesn’t have political statements in her pieces.

“A lot of artists have big egos and look down on others, but Kathy just lifts you up with her art,” Pelkey-Herrick said.

Mennom said Alderman’s leadership has been instrumental for bringing passionate artists to the gallery.

“She has a great heart, and it shows in her art,” Mennom said.

arts@dailytarheel.com

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