Artistic breakthrough

Hedgesville artist's work part of regional exhibit

Hedgesville artist's work part of regional exhibit

September 14, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Just like writers have writer's block, artists get blocked.

Until recently Wayne Peterson says he'd been blocked for maybe a year.

"I would do some painting during this time, but not much and nothing I got very excited about," says Peterson, 80, of Hedgesville, W.Va.

That's no longer the case, says Peterson, who shares some of his paintings from his career on this page.

Peterson's crucifixion is part of the second annual Nancy Rodig Regional Exhibit at The Arts Centre in Martinsburg. The new exhibit, open through Saturday, Oct. 25, features works from 27 local artists that include figurative and abstract paintings, photography, digital work, fabric and mixed-media collages, and audio/video installations, says Shelley Aikens, program director.

Peterson paints mostly in watercolors or acrylics. Of watercolors, he says, "It's quick. It has a freshness, a sparkle to it, a directness to it and if it's gong to work, it works right away." He also creates acrylic paintings that tend to be quite large, as big as 6 feet high or wide.


He got a "real charge" for art after his ninth-grade homeroom teacher complimented his freehand copy of a Prince Valiant comic strip. He went on to study art at a technical high school and George Washington University.

Thinking he wouldn't be able to support a family as a fine arts painter, and uninterested in commercial art, Peterson became an art teacher at the high school and college levels.

When he retired, 18 1/2 years ago, he and his wife, Donnalee, moved to the Hedgesville area to be closer to family and get out of the snow belt.

To learn more about the Nancy Rodig Regional Exhibit, call 304-263-0224 or go to To see more of Peterson's work, go to


"I'm a Christian and I have strong feelings about Christ," Wayne Peterson says. He once spent a year painting a mural for a western Pennsylvania Church of God, focusing on that church's history. This crucifixion painting is about 3 feet high and 6 feet across.

Peterson says this watercolor of Ocean City, Md., is a parody of "the whole cacophony and the garishness and the hustle and bustle of the vacation scene on the ocean and all the people and all the merchandise and all the food and all the rides."

Sometimes Peterson paints a subject while on the scene. Sometimes, he takes photos for the basis of a painting. And sometimes, as with this watercolor storm scene, Peterson creates paintings from memories.

A neighbor's garden inspired this acrylic painting, which is 48 inches tall and 42 inches wide. He says he has a room full of acrylics that are 4, 5 or 6 feet tall. "I'm large. I think that may be part of it ... and I kind of paint into it and I'm enthusiastic with large brush strokes and muscle action rather than tight, picky, precise (strokes)," says Peterson.

This flowering fruit tree was painted in acrylic about eight years ago, Peterson says.

"I was driving by looking for something to paint and saw this and stopped," says Peterson, who was drawn to the trees, hills, rocks, sun and clouds outside Martinsburg, W.Va. After creating this watercolor, he painted an acrylic version that is about 48 inches by 52 inches wide.

This impressionistic acrylic is Peterson's reaction to nature - flowers, birds and butterflies - "the springtime of life and joy of summer."

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