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Ginny Wall’s divine inspiration

Jonesborough watercolor artist Virginia “Ginny” Wall is the epitome of divine inspiration. The itch to create images on paper has always been a part of who she is.
“So, (as a child) if God has given you the gift of art, you don’t cognitively understand that, you just pursue it,” Wall explained. “Since I was a kid,, I drew all the time, to the point of getting in trouble with teachers because I wasn’t paying attention,” she explained.
Wall didn’t actually become a watercolor artist until well into her adulthood. But as a teenager she saw a landscape rendered so beautifully that it hooked her on to the medium for life.
“I was so drawn to it. It drew me because it was transparent, and it didn’t look like anything else I had ever seen,” she said. “So there was an instant attraction to watercolor.”
After working for 25 years as an executive secretary to a hospital administrator, Wall and her husband, Mike moved from Minnesota to Florida in order to care for ailing parents. It was there that she finally got her free pass to paint.
“When we moved to Florida in 1998 my husband said, ‘You don’t have to work anymore.’ And I took this four-day class,” she explained. “I didn’t know anything about technique or supplies.”
She learned quickly. Within a year she was showing her work at a major gallery where she got outstanding support to continue painting and broadening her abilities.
Wall focused primarily on animals, local flora, landscapes, still-life and a few abstract pieces. A few years later, portraits became part of her skill set after a client simply wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“This woman kept asking me to paint people, and I kept telling her I didn’t think I could do that,” Wall recalled. “She kept saying she thought I would be good at it, and that she really needed a Father’s Day present for her dad. So, she pulled out this photograph of her and her sister, and I painted it.”
That portrait led to more commissioned paintings, and she has been painting people ever since. Wall works almost exclusively from photographs and begins every painting with a drawing that organizes the composition.
“With painting you’re actually drawing with a brush, (and) I just do an outline,” she explained. “If you don’t draw you are going to be handicapped. You need to understand how to capture shapes, and how to see light and dark, because light and dark are shapes.
“So you’re not painting a person. Ultimately, you’re painting the shapes in a person. And you can’t cover up your mistakes in watercolor like you can with oil and acrylic, because it’s transparent.”
The light that shines through watercolor makes mistakes highly visible, but it is also what helps the painting appear so vibrant, Wall said, adding that 14 layers of paint, or more, can be applied to one image.
“What is underneath in a watercolor is always going to show through the consecutive levels that you put on it. It’s not an opaque medium where you cover things up,” she said. “Watercolor is the hardest medium. It’s not forgiving. Anything white is the paper; it’s not paint. It’s a lot of planning and understanding the transparency of the medium. You work from light to the darkest dark.”
Wall teaches painting classes several times a year, where she explains and expands upon watercolor technique for beginners, as well as for veteran artists.
“Over the years and in various states I’ve lived in I’ve had hundreds of students,” she explained. “Teaching has been as much of a joy as painting.”
Wall moved from Florida to Jonesborough in 2006 when her husband accepted a nursing job at the Johnson City Medical Center.
Wall has paintings hanging around the region, but has slowed down considerably on having shows and bringing her work out to fine art festivals.
She takes a few prints as well as her paints to the Jonesborough Farmer’s Market every other Saturday, where she paints for the crowd, and greatly enjoys interacting with the local s.
“We’re really proud to be part of Jonesborough,” Wall said.
To learn more about Wall and her art visit