All About Iris: Watercolor with June Rollins

Iris 12 - Bashful Beauty Watercolor 7x10.5 by june Rollins
Iris 12 – Bashful Beauty Watercolor 7×10.5 by June Rollins


June Rollins shows off her Folk School pride.
June Rollins shows off her Folk School pride.

In the spring when I was little, the bearded irises in my grandmother’s flower garden were majestic, taller than me. I couldn’t believe these irises in the catalog put on their show in the spring and then again in the fall. I had to have them.

June demonstrates her watercolor technique for painting irises.
June demonstrates her watercolor technique for painting irises.

Being the novice flower gardener, when they first arrived last September I was uncertain of their fleshy, segmented bodies and stiff, green crew cuts. Cautiously following the directions, which seemed way too simple. I laid them in the ground and sprinkled fertilizer around them like I was casting fairie dust.

What transpired next was actually, the hardest part.

Watching. And waiting.

Watching. And waiting.

And then, watching and waiting some more.

But, this past spring, nine months after we first met, my iris had their first bloom! They were as grand as I remembered as a child in shades of purple, peach, periwinkle, mauve and gold.

June's Garden
June’s Garden

Being the proud parent, I took well over 200 photos. I took photos in the morning; I took photos in the evening, in the sunshine and in the rain.

Iris 9 - Clothed In Majesty & Light Watercolor by June Rollins
Iris 9 – Clothed In Majesty & Light Watercolor by June Rollins

I know I’m not the first person to stick a camera in a flower’s face, but that didn’t matter. I had been taken in.

Before painting, my passion had been photography. A growing desire to paint from my photos is what led me to watercolor. And today, ten years later, a majority of my paintings continue to be from my photo references. Yet, even I had not planned on this overwhelming pull to paint these irises!

But they had lured me in and whispered their secrets and I felt compelled to somehow express this elusive connection in my art. Maybe Greek mythology is true? Iris was believed to be the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. Traveling with the speed of the wind she linked the gods to humanity.

Yesterday, I signed Iris No. 12 in the All About Iris Series and I feel like I’m just beginning. You know, that excitement and enthusiasm that fuels all new endeavors? I’ve still got it. It’s that and something more I can’t put into words. A good problem for an artist to have.

Enjoy the journey!


See more beautiful iris painting and more on June’s website.

Rollins-PaintDemoClass information:
All About Iris – Intermediate Watercolor with June Rollins
February 16-22

Love bearded iris? Love watercolor? Watch these passions come together as June demonstrates painting irises using the watercolor sculpting method. Practice these techniques with personal guidance using your own iris reference photos or photo kits available from the instructor.

Expand your knowledge of color theory and gain composition tips. Previous watercolor experience is essential, and professional-quality tube paints, brushes, and watercolor paper are required. Register today.

Tools of Your Trade

Making Woodworking and Blacksmithing Tools with David Smucker

Almost every Folk School class utilizes valuable craft-making tools – tools that help us to get the job done. The Folk School offers several tool-making classes to help you expand your own personal toolbox.

Do you love fly fishing or archery? Imagine telling your buddy on your next fishing/hunting trip, “I made this rod!” or “I made this longbow!” Here at the Folk School, we still make things, and tools are no exception.

Check out the following cool tools classes coming up at the Folk School:

Aug. 23-25: A Weekend of Pens (Weekend) • Kurt Hertzog
Aug. 23-25: Build a Gas Forge (Weekend) • Bob Alexander
Sept. 8-13: Bamboo Fly Rod Making (Sun-Fri) • Doug Hall

Bamboo Fly Rod Making with Doug Hall

Oct. 6-12: Making Woodworking and Blacksmithing Tools • David Smucker
Oct. 13-19: Mastering Power Tools in the Workshop • Al Trevillyan & Jim Stafford
Feb. 7-9: Drawing for Your Craft (Weekend) • Annie Cicale
Mar. 16-21: Making Woodworking Tools (Sun-Fri) • Chuck Patrick & John Kraus
Mar. 30-Apr 5: Traditional Joiner’s Chest • Bill Anderson

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Traditional Joiner’s Chest with Bill Anderson

May 18-24: Drawing Techniques and Tools • Pebbie Mott
May 18-24: Longbow Building • Tom Turgeon & Dawn Kelly

Longbow Building with Dawn Kelly and Tom Turgeon

June 8-14: Tools of the Trade of Professional Fiction • Wendy Webb
June 1-7: Making Traditional Molding Planes • Bill Anderson & Peter Ross

100807 Bill Anderson 41a
A traditional molding plane. Photo by Alex Himwich.


The Secret Life of June Rollins

June Rollins is one of our favorite Craft Shop people and bloggers here at the Folk School. But did you know that June is also an awesome artist? This Easter, June painted an awesome portrait of Edward, our beloved Rooster and we loved the card so much, we wanted to find out more about June Rollins’ artistic ventures!

June in the studio
June in the studio

June’s artist statement reads, “Daily experiencing the creative process and encouraging others to do the same.” Wonderful idea! June also writes a great blog about her adventures in art. To read it, click here. 

Lauren Kelischek Interviews June Rollins

LK: June, what’s you favorite subject to paint?

JR: Whatever calls to me. I’ve painted a variety of subjects from my photographs including commissioned house portraits, pets, people, flowers, landscapes. In the last few years, I’ve also painted intuitively with alcohol inks. Dreamscaping emerged out of a spirit of play and has had an impact on all of my art.

Dreamscape No. 303
Dreamscape No. 303

LK: How long have you been painting?

JR: I had been practicing photography since the mid-80’s when a desire to paint from my photos began in the mid-90’s. I was drawn to watercolor and learned from books and videos. I consider the official start of my “beginning to paint” in Oct. 1999 when I enrolled a 10-week continuing education watercolor course from Edrie Knight at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, NC. I remember watching the confident way she dipped the brush into the water and pigment and applied it to the paper and thought, “So, that’s how you do it!” I had been way too cautious and timid in my approach. A light bulb turned on for me while in her class. Edrie’s encouraging guidance and being with the other students combined with my previous study and practice was what really got me started.

LK: What other crafts do you like to do?

JR: I’ve enjoyed crewel, embroidery, macramé and counted cross-stitch. Now that I’m at the Folk School, I hope that list expands

Iris 8: On to Glory Watercolor
Iris 8: On to Glory Watercolor

LK: What’s your philosophy with your art work?

JR: In the beginning, I was very intentional with learning the craft. As skills were refined, the desire for creative play emerged. I believe a back-and-forth blending of the two is what works for me. Whether in discipline or play, this quote by Leonardo Da Vinci sums up my philosophy: Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art. 

Margaret the Folk School chicken
Margaret the Folk School chicken

LK: What’s your favorite item that the Craft Shop sells?

JR: Because I have mainly focused on 2D art, I am fascinated and enamored with all of the other creative, artistic expressions. From the soft, rich colors and textures of woven textiles to the strength and functionality of blacksmithing. I’m eager to be exposed to processes I may not have tried without being here at the Folk School and I’m hoping there will be a space for me in an upcoming felting class. But to answer your question, I believe my favorite items in the Craft Shop are the books because of the great selection and variety we offer and because I see instructional books as a gateway available for anyone desiring to learn and try something new.

Treasures at the Beach
Treasures at the Beach

LK: Where’s your favorite place to be at the Folk School?

JR: I’m still exploring and making discoveries. One of which has turned into my latest fascination, Edward and his four lady-friends Margaret, Marilyn, Flossie and Florence (“Flo” to her friends). I’ve delighted in photographing and painting them. This watercolor of Edward is being donated to the Gala Auction. As far as another favorite place, the Dining Hall Counter shortly after the students have eaten, employees are offered what’s left and the food is awesome. And of course I love the Craft Shop and the people I work with.

This is the image that June used to make an Easter card for everyone in the office
This is the image that June used to make an Easter card for everyone in the office

LK: How long have you been coming to the Folk School?

JR: I first visited the Folk School May 2012 when my husband, Rob, was appointed to serve at Murphy First United Methodist.  I met with Billie Shelburn, the Resident Artist for Painting and visited the Craft Shop. I’m beyond grateful and honored Billie welcomed me as a local, guest instructor and my art has been accepted into the Craft Shop.

LK: Have you ever taught any classes at the Folk School?

JR: I’m scheduled to teach All About Iris, a 5-day intermediate watercolor class beginning Feb. 16, 2014. To see examples of the work and read how I came to be inspired by bearded iris, visit:


Iris 2: Come Hither
Iris 2: Come Hither

Goodbye Winter… Hello Spring!


The greening landscape and blooming flowers are increasingly brightening our campus. Come enjoy the spring sunshine and fresh mountain air during a springtime Folk School class. Be inspired by spring flowers in Illustrating Spring Blooms (Apr. 28-May 3) with Redenta Soprano. Embrace the Appalachian Spring in Watercolor with Annie Pais (May 19-25).

Join biologist Joel Zachry to study the natural treasures of the Southern Appalachians in Nature’s Treasures – Landscapes, Plants and Animals (Apr. 21-27). Experience the ecology and natural history of our flora and fauna as you Hike the Southern Appalachians with naturalist Liz Domingue (May 12-18).

Create Artful Birdhouses and Bird Feeders for your garden in James Green’s weekend Woodworking class (May 3-5). Enhance the Folk School grounds in Charles Judd’s Timber Framing class (May 19-25). Weave a Bulrush Hat, and shade yourself from the garden sun, in Jan Stansell’s Weekend class (Apr. 12-14).

Folk School Garden
Tim Ryan demystifies the art of Bonsai.

Speaking of the garden, get down and dirty in the Folk School garden this spring and summer. Learn the secrets of growing abundant plants and vegetables, explore the principles of good garden design, or specialize in a subject like Bonsai or Mushroom Growing. Grow your garden…and watch yourself bloom here at the Folk School.

Folk School Garden
Frances Juhlin teaches about heirloom vegetables in the Folk School Garden.

Upcoming Gardening and Homesteading Offerings:

Bonsai Demystified – Tim Ryan (Apr 28-May 3)
Beyond Seeds-Backyard Propagation – Helen Redding (May 3-5 Weekend)
Heirloom Vegetables – Frances Juhlin (May 12-18)
Sustainability in Your Backyard – Jennifer Cordier (May 26-31)
Growing Your Own Mushrooms – Ken Zinkand (May 31-June 2 Weekend)
Urban Gardening: Growing Food in All Types of Spaces – Heather Funderburk (May 31-June 2 Weekend)
Herbs for Health and Happiness – Cathy Merckens (June 2-8)
Made in the Shade – Tim Ryan (July 5-7 Weekend)

Steve Johnson Features Old Masters Style of Painting with Melody Boggs



We love it when our students blog about us! Steve Johnson, a Folk School student and painter has recently taken a class at the Folk School with Melody Boggs, Old Masters Style of Painting March 17-23 and has written about it in his blog, Slim (Steve) Johnson Paints.

Read his blog here