Continuing in the tradition since opening their doors in January of this year, The Venue at Lenoir City is displaying the work of local artists. The new exhibit features watercolors by Wayne Blankenship and Lil Clinard. The display was curated on a volunteer basis by Mary Bright of the Historic Downtown Lenoir City Merchants Association.

Blankenship’s interest in art began at an early age, when he used to re-color his sister’s coloring books. As a teenager, he began painting-by-numbers. “As a matter of fact, the last one I painted was when I was about 21 and in the Air Force,” said Blankenship. “It was a picture of ‘The Last Supper’ and it took me quite a bit of time.”

After serving his country, Blankenship started taking lessons in acrylics, which he really didn’t care for because they dried too quickly. He later took oil lessons from Jim Gray, who Blankenship considers a “wonderful person and a truly gifted artist.” After a couple of years, Gray suggested he try watercolors.

His work slowly evolved into mixed media, using a combination of oil, watercolors, and acrylic. Blankenship’s artistic achievements include winning the Dogwood Print Competition in 2002 and 2006.

Clinard’s love of art also began as an early age, through the nurturing guidance of her grandmother. After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a Master’s degree in interior design, she went to work as a designer for Wellington Galleries, where she continued to learn many valuable lessons in art and design.

In 2004, Clinard became a self-employed artist. Since that time, she has participated in many juried shows and has won numerous awards, including “Best of Show” in the Tennessee Artist’s Association Annual Juried Shows in 2008 and 2015. She has participated in four two-artist exhibits with her artist husband, John, and in numerous other group shows.

“The focus of my work has been the landscapes of East Tennessee,” Clinard said, “especially those with bodies of water.” Recently, she discovered the intensity and energy of waterfalls.

Clinard is a signature member of the Tennessee Watercolor Society, as well as a member of The National Watercolor Society, Transparent Watercolor Society of American, and the Society of Watercolor Artists. As a life-long student, she also experiments in other media and combining media, including oil, encaustic, and clay. She completes over 100 pieces of artwork each year, including commissions.

The Venue is open for office hours from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. It is located at 7690 Creekwood Park Boulevard in Lenoir City, three miles directly west of Farragut.