Inspired Expressions: Brush, Lens & Clay

Donna EdmondsWatercolorist
Glenn ThompsonPhotographer
Cheri Lee Anderton-YarnellPotter

God’s Creation Enthralls Red Brick Gallery Artists

Whether watching the sunrise come up over a glistening field, marveling at the intricacies of nature on a woodland walk, or floating down the river charmed by the waterfowl and mesmerized by the water’s swirling patterns, we are blessed to live in the beautiful Allegheny River Valley Region. Worlds of wonder surround us.   Some of us reach for our cell phones to capture the moment in a photo. Fortunately, artists among us engage and interact with that inspiration to explore its beauty more deeply and share their discoveries with us in their artwork.

In the Red Brick Gallery’s next exhibit running from Friday, July 14 to August 20, 2017, local artists Donna Edmonds, Glenn Thompson and Cheri Lee Anderton-Yarnell reveal their awe of the beauty of God’s creation and their journey as artists in three different media: “Inspired Expressions: Brush, Lens & Clay”. Revel in their inspired watercolors, photography and pottery and meet them personally at an Exhibit Opening on Sunday, July 16 from 4 to 6 PM, after Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts’ 2 PM Lincoln Hall concert by International Competition winner, pianist Sean Kennard.


Donna Edmonds, Watercolorist

Donna Edmonds, Cheri Lee Yarnell-Anderton

After retirement from a career as a corporate executive, watercolorist Donna Edmonds studied Botanical Art and Illustration at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden and has been an instructor there, teaching classes for the Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate Program. Her work has been exhibited at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as well as the Phipps Garden Center in Shadyside and other Pittsburgh venues. She is a member of the Allegheny Highlands Botanical Art Society and The American Society of Botanical Artists. Donna is the founder and Artistic Director of ARCA’s Red Brick Gallery and currently resides with her husband in Parker, PA.

“It’s a gift to share my creative wanderings with others at the Red Brick Gallery and a privilege to participate in an exhibit with other artists whom I respect,”  Edmonds said. ”I’m delighted to be part of this trio of artists. My fellow exhibitors are indeed gifted artists in their fields and it will, I’m sure, be a most interesting show.   For my part, I spent numerous happy hours on my new watercolours!   I do hope many guests will visit the Red Brick and enjoy this exhibit.”


Wake Robin Trillium

“Although I can be considered an artist, I think I am really an explorer. I am attracted, not so much to the act of painting, as to the subjects that I illustrate. God’s creation enthralls, captivates, awes me by its diversity, complexity and beauty. Painting is my way of engaging and interacting with that breathtaking, fascinating, endlessly complex beauty and in so doing, seeking the face of the Creator.

Indigo Bunting

My training originated at Phipps Conservatory in the Botanical Art and Illustration Program and lead me to membership in the Allegheny Highlands Botanical Art Society and the American Society of Botanical Artists. A collaboration between Phipps and the Allegheny Highlands Botanical Art Society called the Flora Project, launched my interest in Western Pennsylvania native plants. That interest has since expanded to the local birds and the architecture of their wonderfully and amazingly built nests which are very specifically constructed and vary by each bird species.

I am inspired by the life I see around me – the plants and creatures that I share space with every day – because I can witness them, touch them, get up close to them. My training as a botanical artist serves me well since the goals of botanical art are detail and accuracy. To accomplish this, one must examine closely, dissect, and research the subject. And so, that has become my habit. I’m curious to understand the details – the colors, the structures, the life cycle, and the habitat – of the things I paint. This process causes me to gain incredible bits of knowledge about my subjects. And it causes me to grow in appreciation for the power and intellect of the great and holy God who created it all.

Eastern Meadow Lark

Also, because of this, my process is lengthy. Once I have chosen, examined, and researched, I draw, as often as possible, from live plant specimens or inactive bird nests. However in the case of birds, I work mostly from photos. I try to capture details and experiment with various aspects and positions ultimately resulting in a final composition. This drawing is then transferred (traced onto) to a new, fresh sheet of 300 lb. hot pressed (a very smooth surface) watercolor paper or, sometimes, to a piece of sheepskin, goatskin, or calfskin parchment or vellum, using a lightbox. The watercolor paper I use is 100% cotton rag, acid free. This, along with high quality, light-fast paints results in longevity equal to oil on canvas. Before applying paint I experiment with paint colors and mixes in order to match the real subject and produce a realistic result.

Finally, I pick up my brush. I work with a very small, usually #1, round, kolinsky sable brush which allows me to achieve fine detail. Watercolor is a somewhat unforgiving medium. Since the paint is transparent, mistakes cannot generally be covered up or corrected without damaging the surface of the paper. So, the work must progress slowly and carefully, applying many diluted layers to accomplish saturated color. Colors are mixed in two ways. Sometimes the colors are mixed on the palette before application. But color mixes can also be achieved by what is called optical mixing – by layering two or more colors alternately on the paper so that the eye does the mixing as it sees through the “stacked” transparent glazes. For example, alternating glazes of yellow and blue create the effect of green. A complete and complex spectrum of colors can be achieved by simply using a palette of the three primary colors!

Northern Harrier Hawk and Chicks

Because of the detailed nature of this art form, it takes many hours of painting to complete the piece. But when it is done, the next step for me is to take the original to a fine art printmaker to be digitally scanned. The color-matched scan is used to produce limited edition giclee prints. A giclee print refers to one that is produced in such a manner that it is identical to the original. It is produced on a twelve color printer to achieve maximum color matching, with fade resistant, archival pigment-based inks on archival substrates – watercolor paper, photo paper or canvas. The process is expensive but it produces an image as close to the original as possible on a fine surface material. It, like the original, will retain color indefinitely with a modicum of care. Most recently, I have reduced my limited editions to 10 or fewer, since my aim is not mass production but simply to enjoy and share the paintings that I am able to produce.

I am ever thankful for the wonder of the creative process since it gives me such pleasure and satisfaction. I am convinced that God reveals Himself through the universe that He created for us to enjoy and discover and that He invites us to pursue a knowledge of Him through the marvels of His creation. Having formed us in His image, like Him, we all have a drive to create.

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.

Proceeds from the sales of my works are donated to Life Choices, providing life affirming choices in Butler, Armstrong and Indiana Counties since 1984.

Glenn Thompson, Photographer

Red Brick Gallery Cooperative Artist Glenn Thompson has pursued his passion for nature photography in his retirement, rekindling his deeply rooted interest in photography, which began when he received for Christmas in 1955 his first Ansco camera and film-processing and contact-printing kit. He made black and white photos using the kit, as often as his allowance and grass-cutting jobs would provide cash to buy film and developing chemicals.

“It is almost impossible to believe that less than ten short years after retiring from a global business career that I would be displaying photographs in an art gallery! Until the last few years, the results of those trips ended up as coffee table books, which eventually got stashed away on obscure shelves.  As a co-op member of the Red Brick Gallery, I now have the opportunity to share some of my images with a broader audience than just my family and friends who visit my home.  It gives me much pleasure to share the beauty of this special planet we call home as I see it through the lens of my camera. “


“My most recent journey into the realm of photography is the result of the fortuitous convergence of two events, my final retirement from corporate life and the advancement of the digital image age. This convergence rekindled a lifelong interest in photography that began when I was nine years old. My fascination with nature in all of its expressions, especially animals of all sorts, provide unlimited subjects for the lens of my cameras. The existence of light makes it all possible.

Gray Langur Monkey
Bengal Tiger – male

It became evident to me that the soul of the creatures I photographed was best perceived when the eyes were the focal point of my images. Small things that move fast, however, present an unique challenge to achieve an accurate and sharp image of its eye. But the continuous and significant evolution in digital cameras and lenses has enhanced the possibility of achieving that goal. The possibility of taking ten or more frames per second freezes of a subject in very thin slices of time is a wonderful advantage that can also be a burden. Sometimes there can be just too many pictures!

As an example, consider two ten day photo trips, one an animal safari in Africa and a second capturing the landscapes in some of our National Parks. Photographing flying birds and running animals at ten frames per second can easily result in the collection of ten thousand images. On the other hand, that landscape trip could result in less than five hundred images, all captured with the camera on a tripod, just waiting for that exact moment of perfect light.

In both cases, the photos must then be processed and evaluated to uncover the “keepers”. Ten thousand images can represent hours in front of a computer screen while in the case of the landscape photos, the time is spent on setting up the shots.

My photography interests continue to expand and evolve as my capabilities improve. As a post-retirement adult, I use the internet daily to study new subjects and increase my understanding of how the masters achieve their incredible images. I am currently dabbling in some astrophotography; trying my hand at candid portraiture; doing some macro photography of flowers; and learning to print my own photographs.”

More about Glenn Thompson

Glenn and Linda Thompson

Glenn and his wife Linda Thompson (fabric-coiled basket artist) have been Red Brick Gallery Cooperative Artists since the fall of 2015, but they have much deeper roots in the Allegheny Valley going back to the 1940’s when Glenn first retreated with his family to a shared “fishing club” camp on the banks of the Allegheny near Emlenton. In 2007, Glenn and Linda, who reside in Butler, PA, acquired the riverfront property and rebuilt the lodge as a second home in their retirement. Now with their two children and grandsons, they are the fourth generation to have “this piece of Paradise leave indelible marks on [their] lives”.

Glenn Thompson is a retired businessman and entrepreneur.  His corporate career spanned 35 years during which he was involved in the coatings businesses of PPG Industries and ICI (England). His early work life was technology-focused including coatings research, technical and customer service management. Midway through his career, Glenn migrated to corporate development roles including global M&A and international corporate expansion. His international experience was extensive and included overseas postings in England and Brazil. His five year assignment in Brazil involved the creation of the business structure for PPG’s South American coatings operations including the construction of two factories and five business acquisitions.

Shortly after retiring from corporate life in early 2003, Glenn became an angel investor in Plextronics, a high-tech spinout from Carnegie Mellon’s chemistry department. A few months thereafter, he joined the fledgling operation as their COO and helped grow the company to more than 70 employees over the next seven years when he retired once again. He remained as an active consultant to the company until it was sold to Solvay (Belgium) in 2014.

Glenn is a 1968 graduate of Westminster College with a B.S. in Chemistry and is a member of the College’s Board of Trustees. He has done post-graduate studies at CMU, Pitt and the Vlerick School of Business in Brussels.

Cheri Lee Anderton-Yarnell, Potter

Cheri Lee Anderton-Yarnell at the wheel

For potter Cheri Lee Anderton-Yarnell, playing in the mud as a child began her lifelong passion for clay. Today her work is both a reflection of her concern for our planet and fellow humans as well as a celebration of earth and of a spiritual path.

“I enjoy weaving images in a variety of clay vessels.  I am particularly drawn to the plight of amphibians and endangered and threatened species,” said Anderton-Yarnell. “These have become the signature images in my work. From the playful to the profound, I intend for each vessel to evoke a sense of the beauty and peril of our world.”

Her work is primarily high fired porcelain or stoneware. Cheri creates each piece individually, from wedging the clay, forming each vessel on the potter’s wheel or hand building.  Some pieces receive surface treatment using handmade stamps, pieces of crochet or tatting for texture. Much of the work involves alteration through manipulating and through sculpting.


“This past year of working in clay has been one of introspection and of celebrating passages.  My journey in clay for 38 years has been a consuming pursuit in gaining skill and in expressing my observations of nature and reflecting my own spiritual path.  The subjects I am drawn to are wild places and in particular the plant and animal inhabitants.  This past year I completed a goal of walking the same 8 mile woodland path with my spouse each morning.  We marveled at the subtle intimate intricacies of PA woodlands.  These intricacies have emerged in this year’s renderings in clay.  Many of the pieces feature animals, botanicals and interpretive patterns.

All the work is original and formed by hand using slabs of clay or begins on the potters’ wheel.  I choose to work in porcelain or white stoneware because of the smooth white surface, which encourages surface decoration.  Many of the pieces are painted in colored slip (liquid clay infused with pigment) to produce surface depth.

The next step is sgraffito or etching through the slip to create imagery.  The etching process is very meditative and it is my hope these pieces will convey this mindset.  Other pieces in this collection are quite vibrant and feature the repetition of dot patterns that are very whimsical, while others feature sculptural animals.  All the work is high fired, durable and safe for use.

Green bowl

I have retired from shows this year.  My work may be found in Foxburg at the Red Brick Gallery, in Franklin at the Victorian Art and Frame Gallery shop and at the Gallery  Shop in State College, Pa.  My work has been published in two Lark Books:  500 Animals and 500 Teapots.”

Frog Teapot

Red Brick Gallery is located at 17 Main Street in historic Foxburg, PA. Gallery hours are Fridays, 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM, Saturdays, 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM and Sundays, Noon to 4:00 PM.  An Opening Exhibit welcomes guests on Sunday, July 16, 2017 from 4 to 6 PM after the 2:00 PM concert of International Competition Winner, Sean Kennard.