Valley Arts Center’s annual Art by the Falls is a mainstay event in the Village of Chagrin Falls with the 36th event set for the weekend of June 8-9. Here’s a look at two of the many artists whose works will be featured at this year’s event at Riverside Park.
Greer Hopkins, 39, of University Heights, will be selling her oil paintings for the first time at this year’s Art by the Falls. As an “off and on” student of Valley Art Center and artist of Studio 2 in Chagrin Falls, she makes time for her oil paintings despite working often more than 60 hours a week as an executive recruiter.
“I used to draw and paint quite a bit when I was younger, but you know, time passes you don’t have time to work on things like that,” she said. “It really fell by the wayside until I was in my early 30s. And then I discovered oil painting.
“I don’t have a lot of time for painting, but I make time and usually paint a couple of nights a week and on the weekend,” Ms. Hopkins said, adding that she is inspired by nature.
She added that she wants to show what she sees in nature. “It’s important to me to take pictures or develop paintings from things I see in nature,” Ms. Hopkins said. “I really enjoy finding an artistic or different way – sometimes impressionistic, sometimes a bit more of an abstract landscape – where [I can show] my interpretation of places that I’ve been and see in person.”
She described her style as impressionistic veering toward abstract. “I’m a big fan of using bright colors. I don’t want it to be too realistic,” she said, adding that she wants her work “to evoke a certain emotion in people as they view it.
“I just believe that people should have beautiful things to look at,” Ms. Hopkins expressed on the meaning behind her artwork, “and I like to bring the outdoors inside.”
On her first year participating as a vendor for Art by the Falls, Ms. Hopkins expressed her excitement for the festival. “Even when I wasn’t painting, I always liked to go [to Art by the Falls] because I always was intrigued by what other artists were doing,” she said, adding that the festival also reminded her of art festivals she visited from where she grew up with her family. “I’m just very excited to be part of Art by the Falls this year. It’s a great legacy event,” she said. “I’m really glad I took that chance and have everything ready to go.”
Rob Crombie, 66, is a regionally known oil painter and teacher at the Valley Art Center who grew up in Chagrin Falls. Mr. Crombie has sold his paintings at Art by the Falls for about 13 years.
“Give or take a year,” he said. Mr. Crombie, a printing salesman, said he used to paint with mostly acrylics when he was 18 or 19 years old in art school and didn’t start oil painting until just 16 years ago when he was 50 years old.
He said he did art school for two years before he quit and stopped painting for 30 years until a friend of his convinced him to get back into painting. “I did it, and it just took off. It freaking took off,” Mr. Crombie said on picking up oil paintings after the 30 years. He said he didn’t really know what he was doing when starting with the oils.
“I just kept at it, and I was too proud to take lessons,” he said. “I basically learned on my own, and I just kept doing painting after painting after painting.”
When asked why he attends Art by the Falls, he jokingly rubbed his finger together before answering, “I love to paint, and I would have to buy a warehouse to stack up all the paintings I’ve done if they weren’t selling.” He added that any artist would want their work shown and noticed. “An artist wants to get their work out. Artists want to be seen.”
Inspired by impressionists Vincent Van Gogh and Monet, among others, Mr. Crombie said, “Those two guys really put a fire under me and got me going.” He added that nature is also a strong inspiration for his painting and that he has always been drawn to trees.
“It was real important for me to find a safe place, which was the woods and nature and the trees,” he explained when he needed to escape from any hard times growing up. “They provided shelter, they provided strength. I’ve always been a nature person.”
Through his paintings, Mr. Crombie said he tries to convey peace and beauty of nature. “I just want people to feel relaxed. I hear so many people say, ‘I’d love to be there.’ And that’s just the biggest compliment cause that’s where I want to be,” he said on people’s comments on his painting.
“Art by the Falls has just been fantastic for 12 to 13 years,” Mr. Crombie said. “I’ve been doing it so long, people stop by, I see them once a year and it’s at the show, you know, it’s like family.”