Staying in One Place Isn’t Palette-able for Artistic Growth

Bee Adams paints quickly. Perhaps because she’s moved around a lot, she prefers the first stages of a project, that early excitement, to the satisfaction of completion: “I like steps three or four more than the finished number ten.”

Bee Adams is having her day in the sun.
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

Adams, who grew up in the Midwest, recalls attending drawing sessions at the local library. “I often copied the ‘Can You Draw Me?’ [advertisement] that you’d find on the back of magazines.” A more significant influence was getting to study with her aunt, noted artist Val Van Rens. “Aunt Val would paint with me and give me pointers from the time I was about ten years old.”

Later, in her early twenties, and with two toddlers in tow, Adams attended a weeklong session led by her aunt. “I learned a lot from her about the use of space, composition, color, and creating interesting perspectives.” Like her aunt, she paints in acrylics and watercolors and adopts a loose style of brushwork, laying on vibrant colors to capture the landscapes, buildings, wildlife, and other scenes that have inspired her through a lifetime of relocation.

Architect’s Dream

Adams and her husband John raised three children in a suburb of Littleton, Colorado. “We watched our budget so that we could live on his income alone, while I focused mostly on the family.” But she also managed to pursue her own work. “The [Colorado] landscape drew me into a dialogue with the textures and grandeur of the area.”

Then, in 2005, John’s company assigned him to a stint in Belgium, and the family lived in Brussels for two years. In Europe, Adams became enamored with classical architecture. “My exploration of buildings sprang from that time. Often representational work leads to abstract expressions, but mine has developed the other way around … so far.”

Air Stream

In 2012, they moved to Asheville at the suggestion of their two oldest children, who were living in New York and in Alabama. “It gave us the ability to more readily visit our four granddaughters,” explains Adams. “[My children] also felt Asheville’s art community and progressive attitude were a good fit for us … they were very perceptive.”

In her latest locale, Adams regularly joins the Asheville Urban Landscape Painters on outings. “I had sketched when I was out and about before, but never painted en plein air. It’s been one of my best decisions.” This spring, she was recognized with a six-week, 50-work invitational solo show at The Arts Depot in Abingdon, Virginia.

Here Comes the Sun

But she’s recently switched from depicting iconic downtown buildings and rural barns to an even more vernacular scene — shows and open-mic events at local bars and breweries. “I always have a sketchbook handy to do quick sketches of Asheville musicians and the audience members.” 

At this point, she says, her drawings of the singer/songwriters are a standalone project. “But they’re tempting me with ideas for a future painting series.”

Colorful Asheville

Bee Adams, Fairview. Adams is a member (and second vice president) of the cooperative Asheville Gallery of Art (82 Patton Ave., ashevillegallery-of-art.com). She’ll join the Asheville Urban Landscape Painters in a public en-plein-air “paint out” event 9:30am-12:30pm at JuneBug Retro Resort (355 Clarks Chapel Road, Weaverville) on Thursday, June 6 (ashevilleurban.com, junebugretroresort.com). Her work will also be displayed at the “Art in Bloom” event Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15, at Black Mountain Center for the Arts (225 West State St., blackmountainarts.org). The artist arranges home studio visits by appointment. For more information, visit badamsart.com.

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