Juanita Bellavance, Caught up in grasses concept drawing, From the Chestatee River portfolio, 2021, Charcoal on paper, 24 x 24 inches
This new body of work was started on January first of 2021 and was developed through March 31. After being cooped up so much in 2020 I had started going for walks beside a local creek. I took lots of pictures and later decided I would make a portfolio of paintings inspired by the creek. It wasn't long before I realized I wanted a larger variety of content from a river instead. It's only a short drive from my home to the Chestatee River in Dahlonega, GA. From hundreds of photos taken at various times of day on different days, I made drawings from photo references. After weeks of studies, I have composed a body of paintings directly from my site-specific experience and sketches.
In researching a little about the river I learned that "Chestatee" originates from the language of the Cherokee nation. It roughly translates to "place of lights" or "river of lights" due to the history of the Cherokee people using the forests around the river as hunting grounds. They would often use pine torches to light their way and called the River Chestatee.
Dahlonega, GA was a gold mining town. In 1857, the Boley Fields Vein was discovered and produced thousands of pennyweights of gold until it was lost. Later, in an attempt to relocate the vein, the river was rerouted 1/2 mile to a new channel.