Inspiring Painting Classes with Charlie Frye

painting classes Charlie Frye

If you’re plugged into the art community in the Blue Ridge Mountains,  you have surely had the good fortune to run into a bearded man, wearing paint-streaked overalls, walking the streets of Lenoir.  The mountain towns in North Carolina are fortunate to share a rich history of art and culture that celebrate the region, (just take a look at the painted quilt blocks along our roadsides), and artists like Charlie Frye, co-owner of Folk Keeper Gallery & Antiques in historic downtown Lenoir, make certain that this cherished tradition is continued in our NC mountain communities.

Many  enjoy driving from town to town and taking in the painted quilt blocks that adorn local homes and barns.  Frye is self-taught, and perhaps it’s this passion and drive that give his folk art such heart and soul.  Step into his studio and you’ll find color and whimsy all around you. 

Frye and his wife, Susan Frye, are a creative and productive team, so much so that they were named “Master Folk Keepers” by Carl White of Life in the Carolinas.  Not only is their own art displayed, but they also sell work by other Southern folk artists.  Frye paints on many different materials–rusted metal, wood, whatever suits his fancy.  Frye has an innate sense for color and expression, and when he teaches, he also knows how to convey all he knows to his students so they, too, can bring forth their artistic expression.

Frye is more than a talented artist, he has a strong gift for teaching people of all ages how to create artwork of their own, exploring many different mediums, including paint.  His work is representative of the charming life so many in the NC mountain communities lead—a simpler day to day existence and a slower Blue Ridge pace.  Look at his creations and you will see the animals and folks who make the mountain towns in North Carolina all that they are.  It’s clear that the Fryes adore their community and their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

He has shown his colorful artwork all over the mountain towns in North Carolina–at the Caldwall Arts Council, Wilkes Gallery, Morning Song Gallery, Burke Arts Council, Jo Sila Gallery, Root in Vine, Morganton City Hall, Caldwell Community College to name just a few. Frye was commissioned to create two painted quilt blocks at Round Mountain Ranch to contribute to a celebrated tradition begun in the region in 2001. Using colors and patterns to beautifully blend images of majestic mountains with free-flowing river waters, the design evokes all the natural wonder and charm of The Coves. The quilt blocks are named ‘Windows to Heaven’. Come take a look!

Folk Keeper Gallery is creatively hopping year round with Open Houses during the holiday season, artful collaborations with other galleries, and a varied summer art programs for kids from elementary through middle and high school, as well as adults.

Upcoming events at Frye Art Studio for those with children and grandchildren in the NC mountain communities:

  • Intro to Art Summer Camp (5-8 yrs); Tuesday, June 12, 9-11 am; drawing, painting and small sculpture; $85 includes instructions, materials and snack.
  • Collage & Mosaics Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Tuesday, June 12, 1-3 pm; assemblage using various mediums including pictures, beads, tiles and more; $100 includes instructions, materials and snack.
  • Intro to Art Camp (5-8 yrs); Wednesday, June 13, 9-11am; drawing, painting and small sculpture; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Collage & Mosaics Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Wednesday, June 13, 1-3 pm; assemblage using various mediums including pictures, beads, tiles and more; $100 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Intro to Art Summer Camp (5-8 yrs); Thursday, June 14, 9-11am; drawing, painting and small sculpture; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Collage & Mosaics Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Thursday, June 14, 1-3 pm; assemblage using various mediums including pictures, beads, tiles and more; $100 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Funky Chicken Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Tuesday, June 19, 9-11 am; fun drawings and paintings of various animals; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Mixed Media Montage Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Tuesday, June 19, 1-3 pm; used of various mediums to create sculpture as well as 2D pieces; $90 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Funky Chicken Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Wednesday, June 20, 9-11 am; fun drawings and paintings of various animals; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Mixed Media Montage Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Wednesday, June 20, 1-3 pm; used of various mediums to create sculpture as well as 2D pieces; $90 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Funky Chicken Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Thursday, June 21, 9-11 am; fun drawings and paintings of various animals; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Mixed Media Montage Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Thursday, June 21, 1-3 pm; used of various mediums to create sculpture as well as 2D pieces; $90 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
  • Over the Moon for Owls Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Tuesday, June 26, 9-11 am; drawing and painting for all kinds of owls; $85 includes instructions, materials and snack.
  • Sculpty Sculpt-Off Summer Camp (11-18 yrs); Tuesday, June 26, 1-4 pm; creating small sculptures using sculpy and paint; judged art show following final class (more details to come); $125 includes instructions, materials and snacks.
  • Over the Moon for Owls Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Wednesday, June 27, 9-11 am; drawing and painting for all kinds of owls; $85 includes instructions, materials and snack.
  • Sculpty Sculpt-Off Summer Camp (11-18 yrs); Wednesday, June 27, 1-4 pm; creating small sculptures using sculpy and paint; judged art show following final class (more details to come); $125 includes instructions, materials and snacks.
  • Over the Moon for Owls Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Thursday, June 28, 9-11 am; drawing and painting for all kinds of owls; $85 includes instructions, materials and snack.
  • Sculpty Sculpt-Off Summer Camp (11-18 yrs); Thursday, June 28, 1-4 pm; creating small sculptures using sculpy and paint; judged art show following final class (more details to come); $125 includes instructions, materials and snacks.

To register for camps, call or message (828) 320-7819 or send a FB message to Folk Keeper Gallery located at 901 West Avenue, Lenoir, NC.

And remember…you’re never too old to pick up a paint brush!  As those at The Coves in the mountain towns of North Carolina discovered when they participated in Frye’s Wine & Design Class a couple of years ago, sipping and painting while Frye explained step by step how to apply color to their 12 x 12 wood board.  Amazing paintings were created in the fresh air of the Pisgah Mountain Lodge veranda at The Coves. 

Artist in residence programs are just one of the perks of living in such a vibrant and connected community in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Take a ride through the quaint towns on your way to visit The Coves, and keep an eye out for the Quilt Trails in NC; there are nine trail routes to explore along the way. You’ll find two of Frye’s quilt blocks hanging on the Round Mountain Ranch barn, reflecting the natural beauty that surrounds the folks who live in The Coves. And be sure to stop in the Frye’s Folk Keeper Gallery to pick up a little folk art to adorn your new home at The Coves. 

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

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