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Shenandoah River snorkelers seek treasures among trash

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Wife-&-husband team, Krystin Manweiler and John Hooper (above), trove Shenandoah River for treasures and trash. Facebook photo.

For this Berryville, Va., couple, snorkeling on the Shenandoah River has largely turned from treasure hunting to waterway cleanup.

Married for 12 years, Krystin Manweiler, 37, a croupier (a.k.a. a table games dealer), and U.S. Navy veteran John Hooper, 44, a contractor, are both Open Water Scuba Certified, with Hooper holding the advanced certification.

The Royal Examiner recently caught up with them after discovering their J&K’s River Adventures Facebook page, which includes photos and videos of their dives and finds along the river.

What this husband-and-wife team are doing has already sparked the interest of almost 600 followers, so asking them some questions seemed in order.

Royal Examiner: Why are you collecting trash in the Shenandoah River?

Krystin: We first started looking in the river with the hopes of finding ‘treasure’ dropped from those who canoe, kayak, and tube — like phones, GoPros, or anything of value — but we soon realized that there is a lot of cans, bottles, and other items in the river that should not be there so we started picking up whatever we found. Our mission changed to treasure and trash.

Whatever we see and can recover, we will.

I get asked by people floating by when I’m in the river, “What are you looking for?” and my answer is always, “Whatever I can find. I just want it out of the river.”

Royal Examiner: How ‘trashy’ is the river?

John: It’s really trashy. It’s not that hard to hold on to your trash and take it out with you instead of dropping it in the river.

Krystin: Recently, I have been finding more trash than treasure, and that’s disheartening. While I would really love to find the good stuff, knowing that I’m helping to clean up the stuff that you can’t necessarily see [in] the Shenandoah is satisfying enough.

The worst part is finding the glass bottles. They are such a hazard. I find a lot of broken bottles. There are the few exceptions where you know it was dropped accidentally. We have found quite a few full unopened bottles of Gatorade, beer, and even a can of Mountain Dew.

We have had numerous people thank us for what we are doing. People floating the river, employees of the companies that rent us the tubes, and a lot of people on Facebook commenting on posts that I have done. That makes me feel good about what we are doing. I just wish would could get it all.

Royal Examiner: What’s the most expensive or valuable treasure you’ve found?

Krystin: Phones…. so far. I have found three smartphones; two that did not work and one that I was able to return to the owner as well as their debit card and $16. They were lucky that the phone still worked and they were able to save the important pictures and videos of their kids.

John: I’m not as lucky as Krystin! The best item I have found was a fishing pole and reel. I did help a tuber who dropped his phone find it right away.
Royal Examiner: What’s the most unusual item you’ve recovered?

Krystin: There are some pretty interesting things down there. Some make you wonder what happened. I recently found a small propeller and fishing rod holder, making me think, ‘Did the person run aground on the rocks and tip, losing their items?’

I have also found a flask still full of its contents. What’s inside, I have no idea, but I know it’s strong based on the smell!

Also, old things are really cool — a horseshoe and large piece of what we think is possibly old farm equipment. We both love history, so those items, while having no real value, have historic value to us.

John: The full skeleton of an animal. Most likely a deer, but it was intact and at first freaked me out a little. I’m glad I found it though because Krystin probably would have been done for the day afterwards!

Royal Examiner: What got you interested in undertaking this project?

Krystin: I happened to stumble upon a YouTuber who finds things in the river and tries to return them to their owners. Then I soon found another person and another. I showed them to John and he started watching.

We both thought, “We can do this too! We live by one of the most beautiful rivers in the country that have a lot of people that travel along it, let’s see what we can find!”

Royal Examiner: How do you choose your sites? Where are you going next? May other local residents join you?

Krystin: Well, we have only snorkeled the river so far. We have a few places that we will be exploring.

John: We never know where we may go. Krystin usually plans a couple of days ahead.

We like to use local companies that rent tubes so that 1.) We are registered somewhere, knowing that we are on the river in case something should happen; 2.) to get some sort of tube that we can collect the things we find; and 3.) to support local businesses.

So far, we have used Down River Canoe Company and Front Royal Outdoors. Each has their own entry and exit points, so it gives us a chance to check out different sections of the river.

Krystin: I have had quite a few people who have inquired about joining us, but we never really know when we’ll go out. It’s based on the river levels, clarity of the water, and weather.

Since we are getting near the end of the prime season, I will probably set up an event for next summer for a meet-up, somewhere along the river to do a little treasure hunting and trash cleanup.

Royal Examiner: What months will you be actively searching in the river?

Krystin: I will go until it starts getting cold or the water is too cold. We would love to travel to other spots around the U.S. to continue doing this year round.

Royal Examiner: Anything else you’d like to add about your adventures?

Krystin: All we want is for people to be accountable for their actions and to live by the rule of what you take into the river you bring out. And if you happen to see something you can pick up and throw away, it will go a long way.

Krystin Manweiler supports Shenandoah River cleanup and asks for everyone’s help. Facebook photo.

The Shenandoah River is beautiful, but when you see cans and bottles it skews that beauty.

And below the water is majestic. Seeing a turtle with so much moss growing on its shell that it flows like hair in the current was an amazing experience.

But then seeing a can close by brings you back to reality.

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I-66 Outside the Beltway Project: Lane closures and traffic changes – Week of September 22, 2019

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Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project construction continues throughout the corridor during daytime and overnight hours as weather conditions allow. Current activities include:

• Lifting of bridge beam at the I-66/Route 28 Interchange

• Constructing bridge foundations at I-495, Route 28, and Route 123 interchanges

• Constructing retaining walls along I-66 and Route 28

• Demolishing structures

• Small charge dynamite operations along I-66 in Prince William County

• Clearing trees and brush, grading, and installing drainage throughout the corridor

• Demolishing closed ramps at Route 123 Interchange

• Bridge work for new Bull Run Drive overpass

• Bridge work for the new I-66 West collector-distributor road over Route 234 Business (Sudley Road)

• Continued work at the future park and ride lots at University Boulevard (Gainesville) and Balls Ford Road (Manassas)

• Continued work on the new E.C. Lawrence Park Access Road

• Relocating underground and overhead utilities along I-66 and Route 28

• Corridor-wide roadway maintenance as needed

The Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project will add express lanes stretching 22.5 miles from the Capital Beltway to Route 29 in Gainesville, rebuild major interchanges along the I-66 corridor, create thousands of new park and ride spaces, and expand trail options for cyclists and pedestrians. Learn more at Transform66.org.

Upcoming Lane Closures and Traffic Changes
The following planned lane closures are expected to have significant traffic impacts. All work is subject to change based on weather and schedule. Find the latest information on travel conditions and work zones by visiting 511virginia.org or downloading the Virginia511 app.

ROUTE 29 / GAINESVILLE
Ramp from I-66 East to Route 234 (Prince William Parkway) South
Tuesday, Sept. 24: Midnight to 4 a.m.
Overnight ramp closure for crews to shift lanes on the ramp. Traffic will be detoured farther east to Route 234 Business (Sudley Road), make a left at the traffic signal onto northbound Sudley Road, follow signs to I-66 West, and then exit onto Route 234 (Prince William Parkway).

ROUTE 234 BUSINESS (SUDLEY ROAD) / MANASSAS
I-66 East from Route 234 Business to Route 29 Centreville
Monday, Sept. 23, through Thursday, Sept. 26: 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 27, and Saturday, Sept. 28: 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Two lanes will be closed for paving operations.

I-66 West from Route 29 Centreville to Route 234 Business
Sunday, Sept. 22: 9 p.m.to 5 a.m.
Monday, Sept. 23, through Thursday, Sept. 26: 9 p.m. to 10 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 27, and Saturday, Sept. 28: 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Two lanes will be closed for paving operations.

ROUTE 28 (SULLY ROAD) / CENTREVILLE
I-66 East from Compton Road to east of Route 28
Ramp from I-66 East to Route 28 North
Sunday, Sept. 22, through Thursday, Sept. 26: 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Three lanes will be closed with periodic 30-minute stoppages on I-66 East at Route 28 nightly between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. for crews to lift bridge beams into place over I-66. The ramp from I-66 East to Route 28 North will also be closed. Traffic will be detoured farther east to Route 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) North, then follow signs to I-66 West back to Route 28 North. All lanes will reopen by 5 a.m. each morning.

Route 28 North between Route 29 and I-66
Tuesday, Sept. 24, through Thursday, Sept. 26: 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
There will be a full closure of Route 28 North at I-66 each night for crews to install bridge beams over Route 28. The ramp from I-66 East to Route 28 North will also be closed. Traffic will be detoured farther east to Route 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) North, then follow signs to I-66 West back to Route 28 North.

Route 28 South between Braddock Road and I-66
Tuesday, Sept. 24, throughThursday, Sept. 26: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Two lanes will be closed each night for crews to install bridge beams over Route 28. The ramp and two left turn lanes from Route 28 South to I-66 East will also be closed nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Traffic will be detoured farther south to Route 29 (Lee Highway) North, stay right for Route 28 North, then follow signs to I-66 East.

I-66 East from Route 234 Business (Sudley Road) to Route 29 Centreville
Monday, Sept. 23, through Thursday, Sept. 26: 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 27, through Saturday, Sept. 28: 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Two lanes will be closed for paving operations.

I-66 West from Route 29 Centreville to Route 234 Business
Sunday, Sept. 22: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Monday, Sept. 23, through Thursday, Sept. 26: 9 p.m. to 10 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 27, and Saturday, Sept. 28: 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Two lanes will be closed for paving operations.

ROUTE 286 (FAIRFAX COUNTY PARKWAY)
No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

ROUTE 50 / FAIRFAX
No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

ROUTE 123 (CHAIN BRIDGE ROAD) / OAKTON – CITY OF FAIRFAX
No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

ROUTE 243 (NUTLEY STREET) / VIENNA
No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

I-495 (CAPITAL BELTWAY)
I-66 West from I-495 to Gallows Road
Ramp from I-495 North Express Lanes to I-66 West
Sunday, Sept. 22, through Friday, Sept. 27: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Two left lanes will be closed on westbound I-66 for new Gallows Road bridge construction in center median. The ramp from the northbound I-495 Express Lanes to westbound I-66 will be closed nightly. The ramp from the northbound I-495 Express Lanes to westbound I-66 will be closed nightly, with a detour to I-66 East to Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) West, make a left at the traffic signal, then stay to the right and follow signs to I-66 West.

Ramp from I-66 East to I-495 North
Wednesday, Sept. 25, and Thursday, Sept. 26: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Single lane closure for bridge work. Drivers should expect occasional 20-minute stoppages and slowdowns on the ramp.

Ramp from I-66 West to I-495 South
Saturday, Sept. 28: Midnight to 5 a.m.
Overnight ramp closure for crews to set concrete barrier. Traffic will be detoured farther west to Nutley Street South, stay to the right for I-66 East, then follow signs to I-495 South.

Ramp from I-495 North Express Lanes to I-66 East
Saturday, Sept. 28: Midnight to 5 a.m.
Overnight ramp closure for crews to shift lanes. Traffic will be detoured to I-66 West to Nutley Street South, stay to the right and follow signs to I-66 East.

Commuter Alternatives
VDOT and the project team have invested in a broad range of programs to help commuters and others stay mobile and safe during construction. Learn more about carpool, vanpool, telework, and commuter bus alternatives.

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TOWN TALK: A conversation with local entrepreneurs on bringing economic development to our community

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Town Talk is a new series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to: news@RoyalExaminer.com

In this talk, we’ll meet Robert Hupman, Candidate for South River District, Ben Ferri, local real estate expert, Lloyd Knight, financial advisor, Alex Stieb, Lux Solutions and Stan Murzyn, SimpleRoof.

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Wildcat golfers suffer close loss to Hawks

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Junior Michael Kelly led Wildcats in tough loss to Skyline on Wednesday

The WCHS Golf team had a match Wednesday, September 18, at Shenandoah Valley Golf Course in Front Royal. The team lost a hard fought match against Skyline High School 191 – 194. WCHS Coach, Matt Wadas, stated that “although they lost the match, the team had fun and played well. Jackson Pond posted a personal best of 47.”

WCHS junior Michael Kelly was top finisher for the Wildcats, placing second in the match, shooting a 45. Jackson Pond placed third overall in the match. First year Wildcat Will Waller shot a 50, placing third for Wildcats.

The Wildcats’ next match will be the District Conference Match on Monday, September 23 at Bryce Resort Golf Course at Basye, VA.

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EDA in Focus

FRPD project ‘double draw’ draws EDA Finance Committee’s attention

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From United Bank to the EDA, office seen here from the Monroe Ave. intersection with Kendrick Ln. where the new FRPD headquarters is located …

The so-called January double draw on the United Bank account the Economic Development Authority is using to pay for work or debt service on the Front Royal Police Station project was a topic of conversation at Friday morning’s EDA Finance Committee meeting. The double draw involves a second deposit from the EDA’s Construction Account into its checking account from which payments are made.

It came to light in recent weeks that a January 30 transfer of $1.1 million to the EDA checking account was not necessary because of a January 8 transfer of $2.8 million from which funds were still available.

Finance Committee Chairman and EDA Treasurer Tom Patteson raised the issue, stating, “Nothing was lost, stolen or misdirected.” He added that the Town, for whom the EDA has been overseeing project payments, had not been charged interest for the period of time the second checking account deposit had been received until the requisition for project payments utilizing the second deposit.

… for work on those headquarters last January – at issue is why and how a second January deposit. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini. Video by Mark Williams.

Retired Warren County Finance Director Carolyn Stimmel, who has been helping with the audit and bookkeeping review of EDA finances in the wake of the financial fraud investigation, observed that the second draw was made during a time of transition for the EDA. That transition included the hiring of an interim executive director for resigned Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.

Stimmel noted that one thus far unsolved mystery of the second January draw on the construction account was that no draw request signed by an authorized EDA official has been discovered.

“The process was flawed but the money was used for the correct purpose,” Committee member Jorie Martin noted, adding, “There was no malfeasance,” in that once deposited into the payment checking account the money was eventually used for payments on the FRPD headquarters project.

“We do want an explanation of how this happened,” current EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons told the committee and media present.

The January 30 deposit carried a draw notice addressed to then EDA and County Attorney Dan Whitten stating the deposit was being made “upon your request”. But prior to his weekend departure for the county attorney’s job in Prince George County, Virginia, Whitten said he hadn’t made the request and noted he didn’t have the authority to make it. He also has indicated in the past that the January 8 draw was set in motion by former EDA Executive Director McDonald prior to her December 20 resignation.

From left, Carolyn Stimmel, Jorie Martin, Tom Patteson and Doug Parsons ponder how a second FRPD project bank transfer was made without evidence of a draw request.

EDA Treasurer Patteson and others with the authority to request the draw at the time have also denied having requested the second January draw. Bank officials have not yet publicly commented or responded to requests for information about where the impetus for the January 30 draw came from.

So while the process remains a mystery under investigation, according to the EDA the end result seems to be mysteriously-transferred money spent on what it was supposed to be spent on, without undue expense to the Town of Front Royal.

Projects
The Finance Committee also discussed negotiations and the bid process on several outstanding projects. Those include repairs on the residential apartment building at 514 East Main Street attached to the old Stokes Mart building at 506 East Main; roof repairs at 1325 Progress Drive in the EDA’s Happy Creek Technology Park; and a contract negotiation on the Fairgrounds Road property. Prior to his early departure from the 11 a.m. committee meeting, Greg Harold told the committee he had another meeting with the Afton Inn developers on a mutually agreeable path forward.

Harold has previously told the EDA board that the developer is anxious to be allowed to resurrect the project halted upon filing of the EDA civil litigation in March due to the alleged use of the project to move some misdirected EDA assets. However the development group 2 East Main Street LLC was not cited as involved in that alleged misdirection of EDA assets. The EDA suit contends that former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald utilized project funds for unauthorized transfers for personal use.

Greg Harold, left, has continued to meet with Afton Inn developer 2 E. Main St. LLC which is anxious to be allowed to restart the redevelopment project.

The EDA hopes to have several bids in place on repairs to the 514 East Main Street apartments within the week. It has given the three displaced tenants notice the EDA will stop covering their living expenses in a nearby motel as of September 30. Parsons later noted the tenants will be allowed to apply their rent payments to their accommodations until they are resituated in the repaired apartments.

Attorney
Conversation early in the meeting indicated that Interim County Attorney Jason Ham of Litten & Sipe LLP had declined to also serve as EDA attorney. Parsons later explained that Ham indicated potential conflicts of interest between the County and EDA Attorney roles due to the swirling civil litigation had made him uncomfortable serving in both positions.

The EDA will utilize the services of counsel from Sands-Anderson, the Richmond-based company handling the EDA’s civil suit filed March 26. Bids on legal services long term are expected to be in by Monday. The EDA is exploring the use of independent counsel from the County’s in the wake of the prevalence of potential conflicts of interest that became increasingly apparent as the financial investigation and consequent litigation evolved in recent months.

See the entire open meeting of the EDA Finance Committee in this Royal Examiner video:

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Warren County Sheriff’s Office responds to incident near Target

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Route 522 corridor area. Target is the large building in top of photo.

Warren County, VA- On September 19, 2019 at approximately 2:17 pm, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Communications received a call about a male subject, exhibiting signs of a mental health issue, in the grassy are between Target and the south bounds lanes of Rt. 522 north.

Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on scene and observed a male subject, wearing only boxer shorts, walking around erratically while holding a sharp edged weapon against his torso.

Assisting deputies arrived and quickly established a perimeter, containing the male to the grassy area.

Crisis Negotiation Team members arrived on scene and established communications with the male. A short time later, the male subject dropped the weapon and was taken into custody without incident. After refusing EMS attention on scene, he was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Warren County Sheriff’s Office personnel were assisted by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Warren County Fire and Rescue.

Contact for this incident is Lieutenant Bockey at 540-635-4128 or via email at ltbockey@warrencountysheriff.org

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WCHS Cross Country Teams place 2nd in Central Quad Meet

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Warren County HS Cross Country teams place second in Central Quad Meet.

Both Warren County Girls and Boys Cross Country teams placed 2nd at the Central (Woodstock) quad meet on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019.  Competing in the meet were WCHS, William Monroe, George Mason, and Central High Schools, which was held at the North Street Park in Woodstock, VA.

The top three WCHS runners in the Boys’ race from were DJ Staton, finishing 1st overall;  Malachi Quinn, 5th overall; and Patrick Trautlein, 8th overall. Top runners from WCHS in the Girls’ race were Ryleigh Breeden, 2nd overall; Nicole Ranney, 4th overall; and Kiersten Tanner, 5th overall.

Both teams next compete on September 28, 2019 at the Uniontown Invitational (PA).

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Upcoming Events

Sep
21
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all-day Huge Annual Yard Sale @ YARD SALE
Huge Annual Yard Sale @ YARD SALE
Sep 21 all-day
Huge Annual Yard Sale @ YARD SALE
Huge Annual Yard Sale, Sept 19 – 21 Location: 136 Passage Manor Drive, Strasburg, VA Flash Sale: Thursday: 10am – 2pm  |  Friday: 8am – 2pm  |  Saturday: 9am – 1pm
Sep
23
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6:30 pm Monument to Mosby’s Men @ Front Royal's Prospect Hill Cemetery
Monument to Mosby’s Men @ Front Royal's Prospect Hill Cemetery
Sep 23 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Monument to Mosby's Men @ Front Royal's Prospect Hill Cemetery
The Col. John S. Mosby Camp, SCV, will lead the annual ceremony at the Monument to Mosby’s Men, 6:30pm on September 23rd, at Front Royal’s Prospect Hill Cemetery. Past Camp Commander Richard W. Hoover will[...]
Sep
24
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 24 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]
Sep
25
Wed
8:00 am Senior Safety & Health Expo @ Moose Lodge
Senior Safety & Health Expo @ Moose Lodge
Sep 25 @ 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Senior Safety & Health Expo @ Moose Lodge
The purpose of the Expo is to keep our seniors safer and healthier, and to strengthen communication between the law enforcement and senior communities. And have some fun and fellowship along the way! Topics may[...]
10:30 am Children’s Art Class “Back to Sc... @ Art in the Valley
Children’s Art Class “Back to Sc... @ Art in the Valley
Sep 25 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Children's Art Class "Back to School" Session @ Art in the Valley
We are offering classes for children ages 7-12 who would enjoy expressing themselves through art. The students will expand their creative side with drawing, painting and constructing, using various mediums such as acrylic, pastels, watercolor[...]
11:30 am Women In Networking @ Middle of Main
Women In Networking @ Middle of Main
Sep 25 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Women In Networking @ Middle of Main
Guest Speaker: Samantha Barber Topic: Voice for the Voiceless THIS IS A FREE EVENT – Please join us and other women looking to be inspired! “More than just another networking group.” FRWRC WIN is open[...]
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 25 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
Sep
26
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12:30 pm Watercolor Painting Essentials @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Painting Essentials @ Art in the Valley
Sep 26 @ 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Watercolor Painting Essentials @ Art in the Valley
This class will teach you the necessities to create your own watercolor paintings. Setup of materials and proper studio techniques will be shown. Indispensable ideas about drawing and color mixing as well as paint application[...]
4:00 pm Sketching with Pencils @ Art in the Valley
Sketching with Pencils @ Art in the Valley
Sep 26 @ 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Sketching with Pencils @ Art in the Valley
Pencil sketching is a great way to capture a visual record of your experiences and ideas. This class will give students a strong foundation for making pencil images for a journal or sketchbook. Principles for[...]
Sep
27
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10:00 am The Fundamentals of Oil Painting @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting @ Art in the Valley
Sep 27 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful oil paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with oils necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]