Artist drawn to historical buildings

Sunday, February 26, 2012

NEW MADRID, Mo. -- Jeanie Eddleman looks at faded pictures from the past and sees artwork for the future.

Eddleman's graphite-rendered pencil drawings of many of Southeast Missouri's historic buildings can be found in art collections in 30 states and 13 foreign countries. Currently many of the works, including drawings of the Higgerson School, the New Madrid Historical Museum and the New Madrid County Courthouse, are on display at the Hart-Stepp Art Gallery in New Madrid.

"I have always drawn," Eddleman said. "My first drawing was when I was 3 years old, and I still have that drawing."

She would go on to study then teach art for 27 years in Southeast Missouri. But, Eddleman said, it wasn't until after she retired that she found her niche where she could combine her artistry with her love for architecture and nostalgia.

"One of my friends had old pictures of a house in Marble Hill. It was really unique and old and she wanted me to do a drawing of the building, so I did," she recalled.

"It kind of mushroomed from there. People kept suggesting buildings and I kept going and going," Eddleman added.

Today, 27 of her prints of Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area along with prints of the courthouses in the federal court district are displayed in the new Rush H. Limbaugh Sr. U.S. Courthouse in Cape Girardeau. Her artwork has also been featured in numerous publications and at the National Trust National Convention.

And still more subjects are presented to her.

"I like it when people give me old pictures that mean something to the whole community like the old theaters or the restaurants where the teenagers hung out -- those are the buildings that really mean something to people," she said. "I like to do things that will bring back good memories for other people, that's my inspiration."

The artist estimated a work can take anywhere from two to five days, depending on the building and the detail required.

She said she always enjoys when individuals first see one of her completed drawings and she can see it brings back special memories for them.

"I know how much it means to me," she said about a drawing. "And sometime they will see something in it maybe even something I don't see."

In addition to her architectural drawings, Eddleman, a resident of Marble Hill, Mo., does commission work. She said she has completed portraits along with pictures of everything from pets to old cars to even airplanes.

While she has retired from teaching, Eddleman keeps plenty busy. As president of the Cat Ranch Art Guild and chairman of the board of the Tom Runnels Memorial Scholarship Fund, she works at promoting the Cat Ranch Art Guild artists, tourism at the Cat Ranch and creating the development of a networking system between artists and art groups in the region. She also manages WESTRAY Studio in Cape Girardeau.

She has published two books, "Images in Bollinger County" and "Shadows of Cape Girardeau County Yesteryear."

"My retirement has become a second job but a fun job," she said with a laugh. "I enjoy it."

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