“Girl in Wool and Dreams:” Arlyn Pettingell and the Importance of Dreams

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York Springs artist Arlyn Pettingell, whose current show, “Girl in Wool and Dreams” is on display at the Adams County Arts Council, has been painting professionally for over 25 years.

“The first time I realized the importance of dreams in my art I was a child,” said Pettingell. “I was flying through the fields at the farm with colors coming out of my hands.”

Pettingell grew up on a farm with her mother and grandparents where she began painting as a child. She attended nursing school but soon realized she was more interested in abstract ideas. Her time in nursing school led to a self-awareness of the importance of dreams and the appreciation of other cultures as she became a full-time painter.

Pettingell transforms the symbolism of dreams into her art. “I am an expert in dreams and remember all of my dreams. Throughout my life, I have gone through over seven copies of the Dreamers Dictionary,” she said. Pettingell said her dreams told her she was doing the right thing as an artist and gave her the confidence to continue.

Pettingell once lived in Frenchville, PA where she bought an old tavern and a 12-room hotel where she created a studio and painted daily. There, she focused solely on painting and learned technique, routine, and gained a belief in what she was doing.

While living and working in Frenchville, Pettingell dreamed of ballet and reaching the point in which she received pointe shoes and was able to stand on her toes. From this dream, she realized that she had come to the level of painting that was equivalent to receiving pointe shoes.

This dream served as a sense of encouragement that she was bettering her technique and achieving a skill in painting that she had been working towards throughout her career.

With the encouragement of her dreams and the belief that her dreams had helped her build her confidence through painting, Pettingell made the decision to move to an old Holly Springs farmhouse in the mountains and among nature where she continues to paint today.

“Girl in Wool and Dreams” consists of small, intimate works made over the past year. “I love working small as it is more intimate than larger works and I can say things that are just as important when they are small,” Pettingell said.

The paintings represent Pettingell’s interest in Baroque classical music, travel, and dreams. “While painting the canvases for this exhibition, I listened to Baroque classical music in the background because quiet music is good for one’s mind, heart, and healing,” she said.

Pettingell said the quiet calm of classical music has made her more aware of her surroundings and that she has come to think of herself as a visual composer who gives something to the people. “[The music] has led me to paint what is important to me,” Pettingell said. “The quietness, nature, and travel.”

The paintings in the show represent Pettingell’s thought processes, self-awareness, and beliefs that no matter where one lives, it is important and beautiful. “From this exhibition, I would like visitors to take away something from the composition and add it to their own lives,” she said. “Whether its one’s own sense of aesthetics or the desire to achieve one’s own goals, I hope that visitors learn something.”

The exhibition, in the main gallery, remains open until Thursday.

Address: Adams County Arts Council, 125 South Washington Street

Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Sarah Paul is a senior at Gettysburg College, majoring in Art History and Italian Studies. She is from Chevy Chase, Maryland. In addition to being an intern with Gettysburg Connection, she also works at Schmucker Art Gallery, is the treasurer of the Italian Club, and a member of a sorority. After graduation, Sarah hopes to pursue a Master’s Degree in Art History and Museum Studies.

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