Wearing a denim blue apron, Sherry Wooley stands in front of The Pomegranate storefront in historic Gruene. She studies the lines of its rusty reddish-brown tin roof as the afternoon sun begins to creep up the building. She slowly loses the shadows that the light had cast on her initial vision and she must refocus to save her.
Soon, she shifts gears and dips her paintbrush in a dark green hue that mimics the color of the foliage that decorates the storefront and places it on the canvas. The paint glistens in the sun as it
comes into contact with the canvas and with each new brushstroke the story that its creator wishes to convey begins to slowly reveal itself.
Armed with the tools of their trade, Wooley and several artists from the Outdoor Painters Society took to the streets of Gruene to paint on Thursday. With their fingers and smocks smeared in different shades of green, they positioned their easels around the historic buildings of Gruene to artistically render the scene before them.
“To be able to paint an iconic building that’s been around since the 1800s and watch the light change is fabulous,” Wooley said. “Knowing it’s the original metal roof and it’s the original stone – that’s what I like.”
The Outdoor Painters Society was created as a way to bring artists together to work in an outdoor environment, allowing artists to engage with nature, the public, and each other.
“We’re fired up,” said Marchita Priest, event co-chair for the company. “We need that camaraderie and we need to be able to nurture each other.”
Members of the Outdoor Painters Society come from all over the state, with some traveling as far as states like Oklahoma and Arizona to participate in one of the many paint outings they host during of the year.
However, three band members didn’t have to travel far as they were based in New Braunfels, such as Wooley, who owns The Art Cottage, and Gallerie at Gruene owner Myra Knapp.
Each year, the group hosts about ten different plein air painting events in scenic locations across Texas and beyond to capture the vibrant colors that only plein air painting can give them.
“(The paintings are) so much prettier and brighter when we’re outside and (we’ve) captured the feel, the colors and the energy (of the outside),” said Myrrh Haslam, co-chair of the event, about painting the exterior.
When planning their latest artistic adventure, the group set their sights on New Braunfels for its scenic rivers, beautiful green trees, and rich history that can be seen visually in its old buildings.
“(New Braunfels) has a lot of energy that the artists will feel, a lot of contrast with lights and darks like the contrast of the white room against the green trees,” Wooley said.
Some artists were inspired by the architectural elements of Gruene and chose to bring places like Gruene Hall to life with the water tower rising skyward while others chose to recreate the ironic red bricks of the building which bears the name of the district.
Those who find themselves walking along the sidewalks leading to some of Gruene’s many shops may have spotted the artist working to create these images and will have the opportunity again on Saturday when they set up shop at downtown New Braunfels.
The whole band experience culminates when the artists exhibit their work at Krause’s Biergarten and Cafe on Saturdays from 4-7 p.m. Attendees can admire New Braunfels-inspired work while mingling with the artists responsible for the paintings. Some of the paintings may be available for purchase at the event, but the sale and price of the artwork will be at the discretion of the artist.