Supporting the arts: Art Association hosting show and sale Saturday

Published 10:37 am Sunday, March 16, 2014

“If it stands still long enough, I’ll paint it,” said Clifton artist Sara Bateman Nelson. Widely known across the area for the wooden ornaments she has created for the Mile Branch Settlement, Nelson is talented in many facets of art. She has graciously provided her home for the second time for the Washington Parish Art Association’s Art Show and Sale, now in its fourth season, from 2-6 p.m. Saturday.

Primarily a watercolor artist, she particularly enjoys painting flowers. Nelson attended art school in New Orleans after high school but didn’t do much with her art for quite a while. Then she started making candles, and she and her sister opened the Red Barn in Clifton, where they did mostly flower arrangements and candles. Things progressed from there.

A few years ago Nelson, her art and the Red Barn were featured in Paula Deen’s national magazine. Then she was commissioned by the Mile Branch Settlement committee to create Christmas ornaments of the buildings and feature a different one each year. While this was in progress, she also started wooden art of other buildings in the parish, especially churches.

She really enjoys making the tiny buildings, and so far has created ornaments of some of the older buildings on the fairgrounds, as well as numerous older buildings around the parish. There are many steps in making these, according to Nelson, who said she likes to see the actual building while doing a sketch. Sometimes people bring her a photograph, but she prefers working from life, except in cases where the buildings don’t exist anymore. She then cuts out the shapes, works out the colors, gets the paint mixed and everything is hand done. There can be as many as 12 steps before the object is completed.

Right now she is getting ready for the art show, which she thoroughly enjoys.

She said she does all the work at this large home herself, inside and outside.

“We created this house for such events,” she said, “and I love doing these things. We originally planned to bring an old log cabin in here and build on to it, but then we decided to build it like an old house.”

The “old” house is interesting. The center of the house is a large atrium, which she calls a garden room, and she brings her flowers in there for the winter. There is also a tree inside.

“It is pretty funny when I am raking leaves inside the house in the winter,” she quipped. “It is a great place for the art show.”

She drew up the plans for house, and it turned out much larger than she thought, but they have enjoyed the space. The large roof supports not only the top of the garden room, but also two upstairs rooms.

“I had no idea what it was going to look like. Last year I was stressed trying to imagine how the art show would look in the house, but it turned out beautifully. So this year I am not worried. Just trying to decide what I am going to put in the show,” she said, although she most certainly will have some of those beautiful watercolors on display.

While making the miniature wooden buildings, she accumulated a lot of wood scraps, so she created all kinds of outdoor wooden art.

Everything she creates is original and is art, not to be considered crafts. She also sets the refreshment table for the art show with her own hand-painted china and treasured pieces along with others she has created.

Nelson got into fabric painting while designing original clothing for her granddaughters. Since art canvas is fabric, it wasn’t hard for her to envision painting with acrylics on fabric to make clothing as well as tablecloths, flags, purses, aprons and laundry bags.

She paints the shapes free-hand without a pattern.

Nelson still has the Red Barn, but it isn’t open all the time. She said she will be open more after the show is over. Much of her original work is sold through the Red Barn.

She was married to the late Frank Nelson, and they have a daughter, Hillaria, who is married to State Rep. Chris Broadwater. They are the parents of the Nelsons’ four granddaughters.

Sara Nelson will be one of about 20 local artists with work on display at the art show and sale.

The home is located in the Clifton community, about six miles north of Franklinton just off Louisiana Highway 25 near the intersection of Louisiana Highway 38. The address and entrance is at 28035 Winfred Bateman Road. This was the same location last year.

Event chairman Ann Warner said this will also be a wonderful social event, and everyone is invited to attend and view the art, visit with other art lovers and artists and enjoy refreshments.

“This is more than a sale,” she said. “It is an opportunity to share art with the community, and we want everybody to come.”

On display will be oils, watercolors, art prints, wood art, stained glass, jewelry and various other media as local artists put their best work of the year on display.

Other artist members of the association who will have art work on display include Ann Warner, Sylvia Garrett, Kaye Williams, Terry Seal, Louise Barber, Bob Ann Breland, Christine Beatty, Janis Fisher, Frances Miller, Reba Sanspree, Lora Lynn Fendlason, Anne Crawford, Lenora Frazier, Ellen Barrett, Violeta Thomas, Nena Passman, Gregory Burris, Johnny Green, Margaret Shipley, Peggy Strickland and possibly others.