Glenda Drennen started life living on a dairy farm and attended a one-room schoolhouse.
She hungered for ways to release her artistic expression, but the country school didn’t offer classes in that arena. However, her parents were supportive of her passion and provided her with plenty of paint supplies.
Her passion for art continued into adulthood, although detoured into the music genre for several years as the LeMars resident where she spent her career teaching music. She started to dabble in watercolor paint and is now known throughout the area for her unique twist on the medium, which now includes the addition of other types of paint for extra texture.
See her art for yourself April-June with her new exhibit at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji. An opening reception will be held in her honor 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 9.
Drennen’s exhibit will focus on leaves, some realistic and some reflecting her creative interpretation of foliage.
“I usually like to paint from my imagination,” she said. “I think they will appreciate my use of texture because it makes the leaves look a little rough and stubbly, like they are in nature.”
She will also teach others how to create textured watercolors during her Interpreting Nature’s Textures class 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at the nature center. During the one-day workshop Drennen will guide students in creating a leafy composition and bring their paintings to a colorful, textured finish. It costs $50, and students can register by calling or texting Drennen at 712-540-1286.
Environmental education coordinator Karess Knudtson will also lead art classes throughout the year. A soil painting class will be held 6 p.m. on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, a part of Global Soil Awareness Week.
Knudtson will show a variety of soils from different places and will speak about the importance of it.
“It’s how we grow our food. It goes to the most basic level of what we need,” Knudtson said. “It’s easy to take soil for granted. Those of us that do not make a living growing things can tend to take it for granted there will be food in the grocery store that is safe and healthy.”
Then the class will get to try their hands at painting with different types of soil.
“We use a very small amount of soil in the process of painting with it,” Knudtson said, describing it as similar to watercolor painting with soil. “It is a fun and interesting process. The end results have a unique texture. When people are done, they’re usually amazed at what they can do with soil.”
This summer, Knudtson will teach another course focused on painting with natural elements. Her encaustic beeswax painting class will be held 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, following National Pollinator Week.
Knudtson will discuss the history of encaustics, and students will take a look at unprocessed and processed beeswax.
“Without honeybees, encaustic artists would not have a medium,” Knudtson said. “It’s a beautiful medium. It’s my favorite because of the connection to the pollinators, to the bees, to the source.”
Knudtson’s classes are limited to 20 people, ages 9 and older. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Participants must call 712-336-6352 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register. The soil painting class does not have a fee, but the encaustic beeswax painting class costs $20 to cover materials.
Art & Nature courses are held the fourth Wednesday of each month at the nature center. This new series has been a popular way for people who don’t see themselves as creative to release their creative energies. Check out these upcoming options:
- 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 22: Nature Photography with Dan Ruf
- 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 12-14: Watercolors with Anita “Katie” Plucker
- 6 p.m. Sept. 23: Andy Goldsworthy Art
- 6 p.m. Oct. 28: Completely Concrete
- 6 p.m. Nov. 18: Nature Weaving
- 6 p.m. Dec. 16: Recycled Christmas
For more information on these classes or other scheduled events at the Dickinson County Nature Center, visit www.dickinsoncountynaturecenter.com.