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 Sketchbook Project Regular by Mary Jennings


As I age, the more I resemble being regular, the more amazing I feel.  I mean that in every sense of the word. Embracing this regularity is finding ways to spill out into several areas of my work and personal life.  It's comforting to develop a rhythm to life.  I've been regularly getting to the gym by 6am for a daily, vigorous workout for several months. I love the feeling of "making it" to the gym.  Achievement is a beautiful thing.

I get a great feeling when I submit my carefully created Sketchbook Project to the post office for delivery to Brooklyn, New York.  My latest submission marks my forth consecutive sketchbook filled with original art.

It's a really important exercise for an artist to set an intention, meet that intention and follow it through to it's completion.  The additional layer of completely giving away the original creation is not as hard as you would imagine.  It's a bit freeing.

Each year, the books I create reflect the incline of my heart and head for that time period.


My first book was all about my upcoming fIRST fRIDAY aRT sHOWS.  I had a theme for every month and used the book to almost capture the spirit of the whole year of art before it was created.  It helped get my concept foundation straight for the coming year.

The creative process of the second book was different for me.  I didn't view the sketchbook as a book of separate pages, but as a complete narrative.  While I was in the middle of struggling with some personal issues, creating this book was a way for me to process my thoughts and heal my heart during the process.  I chose to capture the process in a stop motion movie and photo process, allowing me to create a movie of the whole sketchbook creation.  This was very satisfying and proved helpful in letting the very personal sketchbook go; And go it went.  Once I posted the finished movie on YouTube and it's now up to over 1,500 views.  I hope it's helpful for people as they watch it as it was for me to create it.  The power of art amazes me.

My third book was a big push that I waited to complete at the last minute.  I had the complete book organized, page by page.  I just waited too late to get started on the labor intensive task of sketching.  I was nailed to my drawing table for twelve hours STRAIGHT until I barely made it to the post office in time to send it off to Brooklyn, NY.  I didn't like rushing the process.  After all, the process is what it's all about.  I need time to metabolize each page as I create them.  I was able to take photos before I sent it off and that is how I made my second sketchbook project movie.  It doesn't quite have as many views as my first,  but is a solid video in it's own rite.

DSC_8321This latest sketchbook, I elected to have it digitally recorded by the team of superb Sketchbook Project librarians with the Art House Co-op.  This way, my sketchbook can be viewed in person or online.  It can be shared with ease.  I will still make a video for this one because, well, I like to be REGULAR.


Please consider joining a gym or sketchbook project this year.  It feels great to be active in every way.  Visiting my blog and sharing with a friend is great fun.