Jeanie Eddleman draws on history for artwork

Friday, July 2, 2010
Local artist Jeanie Eddleman is seen with some of her work Monday in Westray Studio, 5 N. Main St. Eddleman manages the studio in which her graphite drawings and Joel Ray's photography are on display. (Laura Simon)

Jeanie Eddleman was born and raised in Southeast Missouri and has spent a good portion of her adult life attempting to preserve the memory of buildings she grew up around through her pictorial history books.

She has two books that each feature drawings and history of buildings and places in Bollinger and Cape Girardeau counties, respectively.

"They both hold special memories for me," she said.

Eddleman lives in Cape Girardeau with her husband, Harley Eddleman Jr., Sadie, a miniature split-haired dachshund, and Henry, a black longhaired cat who Eddleman said "has a definite attitude."

She is president of the Cat Ranch Art Guild, chairwoman of the board of the Tom Runnels Memorial Scholarship Fund, operates her own business called Remembering When and is operations manager of Westray Photography and Studio, now downtown.

Westray will celebrate its grand opening with a First Friday reception from 5 to 9 p.m. today at 5 N. Main St. Eddleman will have copies of her books available as well as art on display. The studio's regular hours are 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, 1 to 8 p.m. Friday and by appointment on Monday and Thursday.

SE Live: What other counties do you have in mind for which you'd like to do the same type of book?

Eddleman: I have been approached about doing the drawing of buildings in a county in Kansas, which their historical society would write the history, but nothing has really been discussed or set yet.

SEL: Why is it important to preserve history in this way?

Eddleman: I approached this way of preserving history from an artistic view, recording what I see as accurately as possible, and then write a brief narrative history about each building. I write just enough history or facts to make it interesting, but not too much to lose the reader. I looked for information that I found interesting or unusual to add interest. I think it is important to preserve the past. My way of preserving it is different. When people read and look at my books, they are drawn into their own memories of the past and experiences.

SEL: Do you have a favorite building in the area?

Eddleman: My all-time favorite building no longer in existence in Cape was Wimpy's, because of my memories connected with it and in Marble Hill, Mo., the Sample-Page house that was Victorian and Gothic.

My favorite building still standing would be Wicecarver's Store in Marble Hill. The architecture of this building is so interesting because of the decorative Mesker iron storefront. The details and workmanship are fabulous in this building. In Cape, I would say the Boat House. It has been a favorite of mine since I was a child.

SEL: How did you choose the pencil drawing medium?

Eddleman: I chose graphite pencil because I like the ease of use, getting the effects I want with shading, and it is a comfortable medium for me to use. I also have a love for black-and-white drawings and photography because of the contrast they lend and the effects and emotions they can reflect to the viewer.

SEL: What other media do you practice (sculpture, paint, etc.)?

Eddleman: I paint with oil but prefer the graphite pencil. I haven't oil painted in a long time.

SEL: What type of work will we see in the new location of Westray?

Eddleman: A variety of my drawings and Dr. [Joel] Ray's photography printed on canvas and photography paper -- buildings, area landmarks, flowers, animals, portraits, aerial photos of Cape and the region, etc. Both of my books and 2011 calendar will be available for purchase. Note cards will be available from both of us. There should be something for everyone.

SEL: How often will the art be changed in the gallery?

Eddleman: Monthly, you should see new art.

SEL: Is there anything new or different planned for the new space?

Eddleman: Yes, we have capabilities of putting my drawings and Dr. Ray's photography on glass cutting boards that are dishwasher safe. We also can put his photography on tiles, which can be a single tile with an easel back or a mural for your home or building. These are beautiful with rich vibrant colors. The items make a great, unique gift and a wonderful addition to a home or business interior or exterior. These items will be on permanent exhibit at the studio.

SEL: As someone who exhibits in galleries and manages a gallery, what do you look at or notice when you frequent other galleries?

Eddleman: The feeling the studio or gallery gives the visitor and how it allows you to experience the art exhibited. How the studio presents itself. I also look at how it presents the art work.

SEL: Who are some artists you admire, local or beyond?

Eddleman: No. 1 would be my uncle, the late Tom Runnels, who was an artist, sculptor and writer from Marble Hill. Another would be the late Jake Wells, who was a wonderful artist and the most humble person I've known.

SEL: Do you ever get artist's block?

Eddleman: Not really. There is always something to draw. I have a stack of photographs, which I've taken, that I would like to draw. When I'm not drawing commissions for clients, I look at them and see what I feel like drawing and what appeals to me at the time.

SEL: Rough estimate: How many drawings do you do a week (including napkin doodles, drawings for the book, drawings for fun, everything)?

Eddleman: I can't give you an answer on that question. I may draw for weeks to two or three o'clock in the morning and then may not pick up a pencil to draw for a week or more, depending on what is going on and how I feel.

To date, I have accumulated: 245 old or historical drawings of buildings, 44 commissioned drawings of homes, 139 portraits, 45 flowers and animals. I have art work in 27 states and 9 foreign countries, at present.

SEL: If you could live in and draw images of one city in the U.S., which would it be and why?

Eddleman: I wouldn't live anywhere else. I feel I live in the best area there is to live in. As far as creating drawings in other cities, I think it depends on the building I would be drawing, not necessarily the city. What catches my eye or what I find really interesting.

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