As Ilchi Lee so often points out in The Call of Sedona, the landscape here is fertile ground for inspiration and creativity! Oil painter, Harriet McInnis discovered this for herself as she developed new interests and talents in Sedona.

Harriet-McInnis-for-CoS

LT: Harriet, your work has an essence that captures the gentle countryside, rather than the famous red rocks of Sedona.

HM: I love to paint landscapes. Everybody talks about the red rocks, and a lot of artists paint them. We could not live in a more beautiful place, but I don’t really have any interest in painting red rocks. I’m in awe of the people who do such a beautiful job of it, but I want to establish my own area of expertise. I like telling “a story,” like the history of an old barn or old building and like to take a different perspective.

Waiting-for-a-Fisherman-by-Harriet-McInnis-350wLT: It was interesting to learn you have been painting only a short time.

HM: I see myself as an emerging artist, so there was a tremendous thrill in having three landscape paintings sell from the Movin’ On Gallery at Hillside Sedona. That just kind of blew me away and gave me the feeling that I’m on the right track.

LT: What year did you arrive in Sedona?

HM: My husband and I moved here from Connecticut in 1991. Our first trip we arrived at night, so it was kind of a shock when we got up in the morning and saw the red rocks! We discovered right away that people were extremely friendly here and we liked the openness of Sedona.

On the second trip here my husband and I spent the whole day with a realtor and we picked two houses. There was “his house” and “my house,” and my house won! We never expected to be doing that—it was just that we fell in love with the area.

LT: When did you begin painting?

HM: I didn’t take art classes until the end of 2009! I began with Dumb Bunnies Art Class. It was taught by Mary Belle, a woman in her early eighties who had previously owned a gallery. Her expertise was different techniques and I learned a lot from her. She had us copy reference material, which was an interesting experience because you actually learned how another artist created what they did. And if you came up with a good copy, you supposedly learned to do what they did. Color was important, light and contrast was important, and then there were the techniques that she taught you.

She used all kinds of things to make different textures; sponges, aluminum foil balls, scrubbies, fan brushes, and I got a lot out of it. But after about a year and a half, I didn’t feel I was getting the instruction I needed to work on my own, and I didn’t want to keep doing copies. That’s when I went to Sedona Art Center (SAC) and took a class with Gretchen Lopez.

Gretchen’s a wonderful teacher, and I love her art. She was a good example for me. I go now as often as I can afford to and sometimes I will do a private tutoring session with her. I love her brush strokes, and that’s what I’m trying to achieve in my own paintings. SAC is rich with talented teachers. You can work in a variety of mediums, you can learn from different styles. I haven’t taken full advantage of that, but I know that SAC is there and I can see the possibilities.

Into-the-Light-by-Harriet-McInnis]

LT: In what ways would you say Sedona has influenced your artwork?

HM: The art and artists here have had a tremendous influence on inspiring me to keep going and do better. The ability to talk to other Sedona artists helps because you see them at exhibits, you meet them on the street, you go to galleries and sometimes they are there working, and every time you have a conversation you learn something.

LT: Any Final thoughts?

HM: I just want to say that because of the friendliness of the people here, I have never felt as at home as I do here!

LT: Thank You, Harriet!

Lynn A. TrombettaBy Lynn A. Trombetta: A freelance web writer on topics of art, music, and wellness, Lynn is also a wildlife artist/photographer, professional flutist, recording artist, and published author.