Artist-in-Residence at Salamander Resort & Spa, Middleburg, VA by Mary Jennings


Everybody get excited. I've got big news to share. I am the Artist-in-Residence at the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia. When I tell some people this, they want to know if I get to stay there.  I do, but not in the way that most guests of the resort do when they are there.  I get to enjoy the fullness of the beautiful resort while I am meeting guests and teaching them art.

The next question may be, "Well, if you don't live there, what does 'in-Residence' mean for you as an artist?"  All I can say is that, Artist-in-Residence is not entirely rigid in its definition.  There is no single model, and the expectations and requirements vary greatly.

The relationship between the resident and the host is often an important aspect of a residency program.

My Artistic Offerings to Salamander Resort & Spa


After completing an art project for Salamander's Marketing Dept. , I was asked if I did any teaching of art. I expressed my sincere interest in teaching, but also my frustration at not having the right space to teach classes.  I was asked to come up with some ideas for classes that could be offered through the Salamander Resort & Spa for their guest of all ages.  I was eager and felt honored to be offered the opportunity to bring art to this wonderful place I was getting acquainted with  quickly.  The next day or so I presented a proposal with fifteen different art activities for consideration.  These were a wide range of offerings for every specialized guest, age range and event type.  Within a few months, we settled in on four classes.

First Day of Class

I posted my status on Facebook the day before my first day of leading the art offerings.  It read, "I'm ready! I'm walking tall.  This feels like the Catalina Wine Mixer."

Creative Sketchbook Journey in progress
Creative Sketchbook Journey in progress

It was a super long day and I loved every minute of it.  I didn't have all four classes with students, so I was able to create art on the spot that supported the classes I was teaching.  It was a beautiful, slightly windy day and I spent a good amount of time outside sketching for the  Plein Air Painting class.  I got to visit with the gorgeous horses and say hello to the super friendly guests of the resort.

I discovered that I love hospitality.  Art can be a very solitary pursuit in general.  This day I was delighted to be part of the resort team and provide the exceptionally friendly service to every guest.  It felt so natural and I really enjoyed helping people enjoy their stay with a cheerful direction or even just a conversation.

Goals For Teaching Art

While I'm providing an experience with art for the guests of the Salamander with any skill level in the arts, I want them to leave the experience with a better knowledge and appreciation of art and creativity.

I have made each class unique and have created supplies that are customized for the best Salamander Resort & Spa experience possible.

After my first class, "Creative Sketchbook Journey", early in the morning in the library, one person said that they really liked my approach.  She is looking forward to signing up for another class.  I was so honored to hear that given that she drove an hour to get to the class. I get it though, The Salamander Resort & Spa is worth the trip, again and again.

What Are My Qualifications?

Taken from a Facebook status from a supportive friend and collector of my art.

My Über-talented, funny, inspiring friend, Mary Jennings, is the new resident artist at Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Va. (we have a lot of her art of on the farm)

I'm telling you, it is the best gift you could give yourself to spend a day under her creative guidance.  She could make a stone paint! A gentle guide that'll help you tap your own creative juices.  Guaranteed.

Sign up for one of her classes.  You'll thank me.

Beth Reese, Taproot Farm, WV

Thanks, Beth!

Hope to see you all at the Salamander Resort & Spa.  You will find me there with paint on my brush and a smile on my face.

Click here is more information about the classes offered if you're interested.

A Good Home. Will My Art Find One? by Mary Jennings

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Spring is a popular time for creative fundraising and I get several calls to donate my art, time and/or talent to the these events.  I am always more that happy to do so.  As a matter of fact, I was working on a painting early this morning and reflecting on how participating in these various events have helped me place my work in some wonderful homes. corolla bridge

A couple of weeks ago, during a Wine Tasting and Silent Auction, the winner of one of my plein air watercolors gave me a great big hug as she was genuinely thrilled to own this art.  I feel  settled in releasing these works when I am confident that they are settling into a good home with new happy owners.

These works are like my children.   I remember when each work came to life.  It's like I'm their mother and it's natural that I would care about whether or not they are loved and cared for by their owner.   It is so interesting to know that most people who don't actively build their art collection are mostly unsure where to put the art when they get it home.  I understand how that can be a delicate process and if you are unsure, there are ways you can get help.  As a matter of fact, I can help with this.

I am able to conduct in home art placement consultations.  I am able to help you place your existing art and make suggestions about other art that you might feel comfortable about purchasing to add to your collection.  Yes, you can be an art collector.  It's a wonder way of adding warmth and character to your home.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 11.15.15 AMAnother wonderful opportunity to consider in the search of a comprehensive art collection as well as agreat ideas for the home and garden is the 13th Annual Tuckahoe Elementary Home and Garden Tour, Saturday, May 18, 12:00 noon to 5:00pm.  This event benefits Tuckahoe's Discovery Schoolyard.  You can purchase tickets here.  Or you can learn more about the amazing Discovery Schoolyard here.

One of the homes on the tour will be filled (all rooms, every floor) with my art.  It's a brand new home and the builder asked if I would be interested in placing my art in this house.  I was thrilled.  This is a fundraiser that is near and dear to my heart.  My kids went to Tuckahoe when the Outdoor Discovery Schoolyard was being created and I was actively supporting fundraising efforts and know many of the parents who spent many hours dedicated to bringing this outstanding learning opportunity to life for our kids.  This program has grown and is now also part of the curriculum at several Arlington (and other) Elementary schools.

I have several pieces of work that are inspired by the beautiful Discovery Schoolyard itself.  Come see my art and watch me paint too.  I am setting up my easel and pallet to paint the day away while many visitors tour this beautiful house.  This is a huge house, yet from the outside it maintains the existing charm of the cul de sac lined with established Arlington homes.

Sidenote: I will be dedicating the whole day to a dear friend who passed away last week.  Penny Kiser was extremely active in the formation, fundraising, and support of the Discovery Schoolyard up to just a few weeks ago.  She gave her best and we are privileged to have benefited from her time and talent.  She will be very missed, but her love and hard work found a good home.



Feature Friday: One Painting, Many Stories "Ascend" by Mary Jennings


"Upward"Oil on Canvas12"x12"x2" In most cases, a painting has many sources of inspiration behind it’s creation.  It’s always important for an artist to share those stories with the viewer in order to deepen their experience of the art.

This particular piece of work, “Ascend” has a story for it’s creation and even more of a story after it’s creation.

I happen to love looking up (and down) spiral staircases.  I love the design and the craftsmanship as well as the destination in sight.  They afford you with your end in sight as you are going up.  Kinda nice to know when you are out of breath.  I am always out of breath.

Visiting the Arc de Triumph, Paris, France.

Looking up in the Arc de Triumph

This particular painting of a spiral was inspired by the view up the stairs leading to the top of the Arc de Triumph in Paris, France.  With every echoing step upwards, I was thinking about the history behind this small journey I was currently enjoying.

The day I finished the work, it was sitting wet in my studio when a visitor came by and was overtaken with the desire to touch it.  She was devastated that she had smudged some purple on the side of the freshly painted work.  I told her not to worry, the smudge gave it even more character.

“Ascend” has also been published with an article by Rev. Dean Miller of The Falls Church Anglican in Northern Virginia.  Here is the perfectly pared article in The Current, Nov-Dec. 2012 issue p.22. Note the name change of the art in this ARTicle to protect the innocent (I guess).

For a small 12”x12”x2”, oil on canvas painting, this work (for sale on sure has quite a story to tell.....and climb.

I would love your feedback on my art in the comments below.  You are welcome to share this post or my etsy shop with a friend.  I would love to have my art and their stories passed around and even owned.