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Cactus

The work of B.J. Thrailkill is on exhibit this month at the Napa Main Library.

With subject matter that ranges from graceful tree branches to kitchen sinks – and everything in between – oil painter B.J. Thrailkill never misses of day of painting.

“I paint all the time because if I don’t, I won’t get any better,” Thrailkill said. “I feel incomplete if I haven’t spent time with my brushes and paint every day.”

As an art-filled tour through her home revealed, Thrailkill applies her skills not only to canvas, but also to redoing the Napa home she and her husband moved into a year ago.

Many of the paintings she points out while walking through her home will be hanging in her exhibit at the Napa Main Library this month.

This is the second time Thrailkill has shown her work at the library’s juried exhibit. None of the two dozen paintings in this year’s show were in her 2015 exhibit. “This is all new work,” she said.

Thrailkill will share her artistic process at a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception Friday, March 8, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Her art talk is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Primarily an oil painter, Thrailkill has come full circle to the medium she was introduced to as a child.

Growing up in rural Maryland in the 1950s and ‘60s, she lived near an accomplished artist who taught weekly painting classes to the neighborhood children.

Thrailkill was only 7 years old when she began painting with oils and sketching outdoors with charcoal. Her teacher had easels set up for the children to paint and she’d also “pile” them into a station wagon and drive them around the countryside to sketch barns.

“As I look back at this experience, I’m amazed at my good fortune. She was a remarkable individual and a lasting gift to us all,” Thrailkill said, smiling fondly as she recalled her early art experiences.

Though Thrailkill sketched and took other classes in painting and sculpting in the 1970s, she majored in business, not art, and met her husband, another business person, in graduate school.

Over the years, she continued sketching and switched from oils to acrylics but didn’t fully engage with her art – as she does now—until her two children left for college.

About eight years ago, she began taking classes from “world-class” artist Chester Arnold at the College of Marin.

A runner and tennis player, as well as an artist, Thrailkill views art, like exercise, as a way to enhance feelings of well-being and contentment.

Her daily runs are frequently interrupted with something catching her eye that she stops to photograph as inspiration for a future painting.

“I never have a block where I don’t know what to paint. I have a million things Id like to paint,” she said. “It is like opening Pandora’s box.”

There is a look of accuracy to her many of her paintings that suggests photo realism, yet she likes to deviate from complete representation and move toward a “peculiar realism.” Much of her work is horticultural while other paintings, like her crows eating Cheetos, is humorous.

She often paints in a series when she finds a subject that fascinates her like crows, sinks and branches.

Since 2012, Thrailkill’s work has appeared in dozens of exhibitions throughout the North Bay.

Since her recent move to Napa, she has already become involved with Open Studios Napa Valley and Yountville Art, Sip and Stroll. Her work can also be seen in the library as well as Jessel Gallery.

Art in the Library is sponsored by Friends of the Library Foundation. The public is welcome to view the art and meet the artists who give a talk about their work, process and inspiration. A jury of local artists, a library commissioner and art in the library coordinator Stephania Pramuk view all entries and make selections for the year. The judging is blind.

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