Wildlife painter and wood sculptor present work at ORS.

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Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013 10:37 am

VALDESE, NC -- The Rock School Arts Foundation of Valdese announces a rich exhibition schedule for spring with wildlife painter Don Balke, wood sculptor Don McHugh and The Piedmont Painters.

Wisconsin native Balke has spent his life observing nature. As a child living on a remote farm, his family’s reliance on the land for their livelihood helped him hone his keen powers of observation.

From skilled depictions of wildfowl and mammals to flowers, Balke’s brush tells an intimate story that can only be captured through meticulous inspection of his subject matter. Often traveling the U.S. with his wife, Barbara, by motorcycle, Balke uses these open air excursions as a way to broaden his visual storehouse of imagery.

Inspired not only by American wildlife scenes, Balke also draws on his experience as a world traveler to depict a variety of images. A deep sensitivity to his subject and vivid use of color has garnered him a wide audience across the state and beyond. With his work collected as far away as China and The Vatican, Balke has developed a following of admirers and collectors from around the globe. He resides and operates a studio - gallery in Nebo.

Another Wisconsin native, sculptor Don McHugh also relies on nature for his inspiration. After a successful career in the Navy, McHugh began carving wood in 1999. Preferring to work in the round, so that the piece is fully dimensional from all sides, McHugh’s work is sometimes detailed and realistic, but often also warm and whimsical. The utilization of power tools allows McHugh to employ a variety of woods.

He has recently moved toward a more stylized approach to carving, employing airbrushing to the completed sculptural form. He has been a member of various carvers’ groups and received numerous awards including one from the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition. He currently shares his skill at classes and demonstrations at Klingspor Woodworking Shop in Hickory.

Formed in 1984, The Piedmont Painters offer members a venue for food, conversation and critique. Limited to only 14 members at any time, the painters hosts meetings at members’ homes. Among the ranks the painters include local art teachers and commercial artists. From a variety of backgrounds and employing an array of mediums and techniques, the painters nevertheless find a common ground in their dedication to improving their skills through various workshops and field trips.

The opening reception is set for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Old Rock School. The galleries are located on the second floor, right side entrance. The Old Rock School is located at Main Street West in historic downtown Valdese. Hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, weekends by appointment, 828-879-2129.