With no expectation of success, painter Ruth Ananda applied this year to become a member of the Orange County Artists Guild.
Not only was she accepted, she was encouraged to join the guild’s 19th annual Open Studio Tour.
The tour – noon-5 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 10, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday – offers the chance to explore the studios of more than 60 artists throughout Orange County.
Bird Nest Studio, stop No. 51 at 805 Kenmore Road in Chapel Hill, is where Ananda creates her acrylic paintings inspired by nature, yoga and meditation.
While in school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Ananda majored in art and minored in religion, studying Tibetan Buddhism with Jeffrey Hopkins. “When Jeffrey would host monks in Charlottesville, I would get to study with them,” said Ananda, who taught herself yoga and has trained to teach it.
Visitors will see works that, much like the practices that inspire them, are calming and absorbing. All are part of Ananda’s series called “The Field and the Knower of the Field,” which is the title of a chapter of the yogic text “The Bhagavad Gita.”
Her talent is evident in her work. Her shyness is not.
“My friend artist Anna Crawford offered to help me so I won’t be alone welcoming people in, and that made me feel like I can do this,” said Ananda, who feels what many artists do as they share their work: nervousness.
“I am putting myself out there, and I wonder if people will like my work. I am exposing myself. I feel vulnerable that way.”
Good sales medium
Carroll Lassiter, stop No. 20 at 1900 Jo Mac Road in Chapel Hill, has been involved with the tour from the start.
“We started with about 25 people. It was an experiment to see if people would actually show up,” she said. “It has been a really good sales medium for me.”
Lassiter derives inspiration for her oil paintings from her hometown Edenton, which is flat, open and agricultural. “You get big skies, and there is a lot of water around,” she said. “I just get a really solid feeling when I am looking at the field, and I try to put that in my paintings.”
The painting that Lassiter will hate to see go, even though it would be a sale, is a new one that captured an early morning view of a field seen from her mother’s Edenton home. “It is looking towards a creek that I am real familiar with. The mist was on the field, the sky is real pink, and the cypress trees had turned a coppery color,” Lassiter said.
In addition to nature, tools inspire Lassiter. “I like the integrity of what tools can do, move earth or cultivate your garden,” she said.
This year’s guild president is Linda Carmel, No. 44 at 101 Huntington Drive in Chapel Hill.
“I love the behind-the-scenes feeling of the studio tour,” Carmel said. “I was a teacher before I was an artist and enjoy talking about my work and demonstrating my painting process. Some people come back year after year and have become friends. Also, art galleries can be intimidating for many people.”
Visitors to Carmel’s studio, which for the tour she shares with glassblower Pringle Teetor, will see “Autumn Glow.”
“One of the things I loved about being a tour visitor was driving through Orange County enjoying the fall colors, so I wanted to do a painting that reflected this time of year,” she said. “I know we don’t have many aspen trees here, which is the subject of the piece, but I remember them from my time in Colorado and I love their silver-gray trunks.”
Jamie Hagenberger, No. 14 on the tour at 2408 Wade Hampton Road in Hillsborough, specializes in photograms, which are made in a darkroom without a camera or a negative. Objects, such as a leaf or flower, are placed on photo-sensitive paper, exposed to light and then developed.
“Not many artists focus on this technique,” Hagenberger said. “When I experienced this magic in the darkroom, I was so in love with what resulted that I have never moved on.”
She said she wrestled for a while with calling herself a photographer since she doesn’t use a camera or negatives.
“People look at me like I am crazy, but I decided I am not,” Hagenberger said. “I got a degree in photography but put my camera down because I got burnt out. I realized I was passionate about the darkroom and imagery, whatever form that comes in. Photograms are my identity.”