An eye for detail, a heart for teaching
Sometimes you have to pursue your dreams despite what others might tell you. That's what Beaver Creek artist Erin Lore says she had to do as she planned go to Concord College after graduating from high school in Greenbrier County.
"When I went to see my guidance counselor and we were planning my classes, she told me art was a really bad idea," Lore says. "She said it would be so hard to stay in this area with an art degree. That really discouraged me."
So Lore started out studying medicine, but just a couple years later she came back to what she loved doing-drawing and painting.
Lore says that since she moved to Pocahontas County around 2004, she has found a surprising amount of art-related work. She has often worked on commission, painting portraits for families. For a period of time, Lore painted a lot of pets as well, for people who wanted to preserve the memory of their animals.
Among the more unusual commissions was from a client who asked Lore to paint items from his antique engine collection.
"His wife kind of joked about that," she says. "She said, 'you'd think he'd hire someone to paint, maybe, his family. But no, he likes his engines better.'"
In addition to her commissioned work, Lore has also used her paint brush to help causes in the community. For Huntersville Traditions Day, Lore painted a postcard of the historic Huntersville School house, just as the committee that organizes the festival was beginning to restore the old building. Proceeds from the postcards benefited the restoration effort.
People seek out Lore for her painting, but she is also skilled with a pencil. With her drawings, Lore has illustrated two children's books authored by M. Jane Holt-Eaglet and Crow Woman (2008, Firepit Publishers) and Timmy the Dragon (2007, Yarrow Press). Lore was introduced to Holt by one of the local librarians who knew Lore's skills and that Holt was seeking an illustrator.
Lore studied graphic design at Concord, but well before that, Lore says she was drawing as far back as she can remember.
"My mom said I liked to draw as soon as I could pick up a crayon," she said.
That interest was nurtured by the strong art programs in the Greenbrier County schools when she was growing up.
Drawing was her first love, but Lore's studies in college allowed her to explore new media that she continues to use today, such as oil and pastels.
Today, acrylic paints and and pencil are Lore's prefered materials. She likes the control and level of detail that they offer for her photo-realistic style of drawing and painting.
While Lore appreciates the commissioned work that she gets, she's also getting back into doing some of her own painting. Lore is currently in the process of putting together a portfolio of prints that she can sell at area shows and festivals. People will have an opportunity to see some of her work at this July's Pioneer Days festival in Marlinton.
Through Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation and the Pocahontas County Arts Council, Lore has also been an active art teacher since moving to the county around 2004.
"I really like teaching," she says. "I do classes with both kids and adults. It's a lot of fun."
"The adults are nice because when it's time to start class, everyone is paying attention and in their seats," she says. "But kids can be a little more fun. When an adult draws, they start critiquing their own work right away, but the kids just think everything they do looks great."
At the same time, Lore says its rewarding to work with adults who might start out with doubts about their ability to draw, yet discover that they can indeed express themselves well in pictures.
And Lore has been teaching children long enough that she is beginning to see some of her students consider pursuing art as they look toward college. She still remembers the discouragement she faced when she was in that position.
"With kids that I teach now, I try to tell them there are so many directions," she says. "There's computers, photography, graphic design. It's not just painting pictures and trying to sell them. That can be hard to earn money that way, but there are so many other jobs in art now-especially with computers-I don't think anybody should be discouraged from it. There are too many possibilities."