New Adventures in Learning at 310 ART

Our fine art school for adults was founded in 2006 and is now the oldest independent school of its type in the WNC region. If that were not cause for celebration enough, every year we create new courses and learning opportunities, and this year, with the creative thinking of three of our resident artists, we have embarked on new projects and opportunities! Some of the new things happening are unusual, exciting and only found at 310 ART.

Elizabeth Henderson's Paper Project

Nadine Charlsen, our Experimental Watercolor instructor nonpareil, created a new project that has taken artists on an exploration of paper and watercolor. “The Paper Project” is related to our extensive experimental watercolor program and supported by our friends at Cheap Joes who provided 11 different papers for each artist. The results have been a revelation. Ten artists, starting in a one-day workshop in June have worked all summer to paint a chosen subject on these different papers to see how the paint behaved and which surface they liked best. The results vary dramatically!!  The project has captured the interest of several publications, including a national magazine, and will be published in 2020 as well as shared with other students at 310 ART.

Bridget Benton

Bridget Benton, our lead encaustic instructor, is offering one-on-one coaching sessions through 310 ART that blend her experience as an encaustic/mixed-media art instructor and author of the award-winning book on intuitive artmaking The Creative Conversation. A huge success, the coaching sessions focus on helping emerging artists find their unique creative voice, and support established artists in addressing blocks, slumps, or major style transitions. Benton says, "I love helping people make things. With the Finding Your Voice sessions, I want to help artists access their authentic creative voice whether they're just starting out or have been working for years as professional artists. Sometimes the pros need a chance to reconnect with their love of art making - something that can get lost when you're always making things to sell." Benton has expanded her home studio, which is very close to 310 ART, to accommodate this growing program, which also includes private and semi-private encaustic, eco printing and nature printing classes, giving more opportunities to schedule sessions.

Denise Markbreit's Big Press

Denise Markbreit, professional printmaker, joined 310 ART as a resident artist and instructor this year. In September she opened Asheville Print Studio just upstairs from the classroom at 310 ART, where she will teach of printmaking courses and private instruction in partnership with 310. A very special feature of this new studio is environmental and health consciousness with materials. Printmaking as long been associated with the use of toxic materials. Now, Denise has established the only independent green print shop in the region. Using safe soy and water-based inks and paints and no solvents has proven to be a healthy environment for artists of all ages wanting to learn. Some techniques include one of a kind prints, mixed media printmaking, fabric printing, solar plate, woodcut and wood lithography in her fully equipped studio. We are happy to announce we will be offering private printmaking classes and weekend workshops in the upcoming 2020 schedule.

310 ART is happy to announce the 2020 schedule now online at Join us in our never-ending quest to learn more and create more. 310 ART, 191 Lyman St, #310, ground floor, also houses a large gallery that features the work of 20 local artists. Gallery hours M-Sat 11-5 and Sun 12-4, class times as scheduled.

Atypical Dimensions: voLUMINOUS Watercolors of Nadine Charlsen

Nadine Charlsen can be found every day in her studio space at 310 ART creating large scale watercolors.  Her newest piece up on an easel, she is surrounded by framed works and carefully organized large files of paintings sorted by countries. While she does create some smaller pieces, none are your usual watercolor paintings. In fact, most viewers and even experienced collectors do not recognize this work as watercolor. With bold and striking lights and darks, layers, glazing, distressing, scraping, and splattering, she transforms her subjects into dramatic large-scale works that are collected as major focal points in homes and businesses.

Times Square Triptych NYC 40 x 78.jpg

Charlsen’s background as a theater professional contributes to her feel for drama. You can often find her at her easel working with the painting upright, brush in one hand and spray water bottle in the other. Just when most would think the work is finished, she wets the surface with water and washes of paint nearly obscuring the image. Then she reconstructs and brings out the luminous light with methods that seem almost magical. And, rather than keeping these techniques all to herself, she enjoys teaching and mentoring an ever-growing number of both aspiring and experienced painters at the school at 310 ART.

Nadine Painting Trains.jpg

This February and March, Charlsen will have a featured exhibit showcasing her large pieces. Her show is cleverly titled ”Atypical Dimensions: voLUMINOUS Watercolors”.  She explains, “My watercolors are not your typical small detailed 8x10 light, smooth paintings.  I paint large rough gritty images of cities, landscapes, industrial sites that have texture and depth.  The watercolors that I will show in the voLuminous Dimensions show are much larger than "grandma's watercolors".

“I paint from dark to light establishing the value composition before the color. I love this process because the painting seems to show mood and atmosphere before being cluttered by too much color. The subjects that I paint are from my photographs taken with strong luminous highlights and shadows.  Old buildings, industrial areas, bridges, trains etc. are strong subjects that work well with this strong painting style.”
Besides her years as a theater professional in NYC, Charlsen has traveled to many countries taking thousands of photos. When she began her recent Train Series, she found dozens of train photos taken over the years. Long before she moved permanently to Asheville and the River Arts District to work, she had complied many photos of the district on visits. “Now some of my paintings are of buildings no longer in existence in the RAD. It is a historical record, besides being a collection of painting resources for me.

Where to go: The show runs from Feb 2 to April 2 with an opening reception Feb 3 from 1:30 to 4:30. (snow dates are Feb 10 or 16). An art talk and closing reception will be held March 29th, 2:00-6:30. 310 ART, Riverview Station ground floor N, 191 Lyman St, #310, Asheville, NC 28801. opened 7 days a week, Feb 12-4, March 11-5.



The Gift of Art - It's Almost Like Being in Love

I spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid, soaking up the sun, enjoying the moods of the landscape, sitting on the shore of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico with its rhythmic tides and lapping waters. Watching the water ebb and flow put me in a rather transcendental and warm and fuzzy state of mind. Now, the sights of mountain seasons call to mind natures rhythms and wash over me like warm gulf waters.  It is no surprise that my adult painting themes have always gravitated to expressive water scenes and abstracted mountain landscapes as I try to communicate that indescribable state of mind that beauty evokes.

Recently I read about a neurobiologist who has done quantifiable studies on how the brain reacts to beauty. Semir Zeki, of the University of London, specializes in neuroesthetics. He measured the correlation of brain activity when humans experienced love, desire and beauty, and has found that the parts of the brain that respond to visual art and music that the subjects identified as beautiful are the same areas that “light up” when experiencing love and desire. If you want a much more in-depth explanation, just look him up, he has some very interesting videos and articles that explain much more fully than I can.

My takeaway is that it is a scientifically proven fact that my experiences with the beauty of nature, and my desires to recreate these scenes are explained by science and how our brains work. I have always felt the urge to experience that sensation that beauty evokes. And it is so exciting when others tap into that feeling when they look at art work.  They might sense something familiar, or just enjoy something they cannot explain.

Looking at beautiful paintings can be “Almost like Being in Love” as the song goes. It makes sense that if we really want to enhance our lives and live our most self-actualized life, we will make sure we surround ourselves with beautiful creations both in visual art and music. (Most of the painters I know listen to music while they create, by the way). When you give someone one of a kind handmade art, you are giving a bit of love that will resonate with them every day and stimulate a happy and fulfilled mood. Waking up to art can set the stage for happiness. As the great lyricist, Fredrick Loewe wrote, “There's a smile on my face, For the whole human race, Why, it's almost like being in love.”

With Love,

Visit 310 ART to see original art created with love. 191 Lyman St, #310, Asheville, NC 28801. See for more information can our class schedule.

Nature: Making an Impression by Bridget Benton

Watercolor Feather Print

Watercolor Feather Print

Eco Print using Chestnut, Oil and Onion Skins

Eco Print using Chestnut, Oil and Onion Skins

Gelli Plate Nature Printing

Gelli Plate Nature Printing

Ginko Encuastic Nature Print

Ginko Encuastic Nature Print

Eco Print on Paper

Eco Print on Paper


I used to love printmaking when I was in college in Colorado – the big presses exerting 1500 pounds per inch of pressure, the smell of the inks, and the ability to reproduce multiple copies of single hand-created image.  I loved cutting the images up and recombining them. I carved wood blocks, I made etchings, I did monotypes - but the cost of the press and the highly technical nature of printmaking meant that I didn’t do it much in those first few years after college.

But the idea of reproducing an image stuck with me, as did creating an indirect image by inking a surface or capturing a texture. I played with photocopies, collage, and what I called “junk printing” – pulling a print from inked up bits of foam, string, or other found objects.

Something else stuck with me from college and my time in Colorado. I had a love of hiking and the natural world!  I tried using photographs and found natural objects in my work, but it never quite clicked. The closest I came was color – even now, the colors in my work are strongly influenced by the turquoise skies, rusty red rock formations, citrus green lichens, and bold yellow-orange aspen leaves of Colorado and the Southwestern United States.

In 2010, I was invited to teach encaustic to members of the Nature Printing Society, then having their annual workshop on the Oregon Coast. Encaustic is my primary medium – a combination of molten beeswax, resin, and pigments that is used as a painting and collage medium.  I experimented a bit with pressing leaves into the surface of the warm wax to get an impression – a technique I adapted from existing methods of creating texture in the encaustic surface.
For the past seven years, I’ve gone back to that annual workshop – sometimes to teach, but always to learn. My work now includes a variety of different nature printing techniques. Nature printing as we know it first emerged in the middle ages as a way of recording and identifying medicinal plants. The plants were inked or painted and then pressed onto paper, leaving behind an image. This perfectly proportioned imprint could then be colored or annotated to provide additional information.

Now, I’m not only pressing the plants into encaustic, but also using their natural tannins to create designs on paper and silk ( called Eco Printing) and printing them with watercolors and inks on a variety of papers. I’ve even experimented with printing on raku-fired pottery and precious metal clay!

Much of my work has to do with belonging, memory, and a sense of home. Whether the nature prints I do stand alone, or are incorporated into a larger, more complex painting, these natural elements ground the work. The plant impressions are a kind of memory and their inclusion adds a sense of place.  And Western North Carolina offers a wealth of materials!

Bridget Benton teaches Encaustic and Nature Printing, Eco Printing on Silk and Art Paper, Resin Casting of Natural objects and much more at 310 ART


Making Green

A rainy day during a plein air workshop on Long Island several years ago became a day of studying green paint.  The instructor said, "Make as many greens as you can with colors you have".  I produced the green chart (pictured below) with the color mixtures listed below each test strip. 

Green Chart, with color combinations listed below each swatch...

Green Chart, with color combinations listed below each swatch...

Then I cut out the center of each strip.  If you hold it up to the green trees or fabrics or nature object, you can see what colors to use in creating the color. 

Green palette, to keep the colors from mixing...

Green palette, to keep the colors from mixing...

I also have a palette of those colors to make the greens.  This way the greens do not mix in with other colors on my separate warm and cool palettes.

The only green watercolor I buy is Winsor Green.  I use it for the green is stop lights.  One tube lasts forever.

This article was written by Nadine Charlsen, 310 ART resident artist.  Check her page on the 310 website and her personal website for information and examples of her work.