An Artist Among Us: Van Anderson and the Darbytown Art Studio

An Artist in the Family

Vernon Anderson, more affectionately known as Van, is the second eldest of the Anderson siblings and has worked for the Anderson Companies for more than 30 years. His contribution to our work is invaluable, from helping to run one of our convenience stores back in the day to currently helping customers refill their cylinder tanks and back office daily tasks.  However, his most visible contribution is the beautiful artwork throughout our building.  His journey into art started in the early ‘70s during his primary education. Since then Van has been on his own, learning his craft, and experimenting in many facets of art. Van has strong preferences for the bright and boldness in colors. It is his hope to share color and positive energy through his art with the world and to help make it a better place.  Van has certainly enriched the lives of his family, coworkers and friends with his wonderful personality and beautiful paintings.

He works with a range of mediums including acrylics, alcohol ink and watercolor. He will paint on most anything, from canvas and tiles to porcelain objects and seashells. Much of his work is abstract, but he enjoys painting landscapes too. His work evolves during the process and he hopes that the viewer will find their own imagery in his pieces. An artist shows their true self through their craft and he is always working outside of his comfort zone to better his work.


Van has had his work displayed in many locations throughout the area. You may have seen him painting in the windows on Caroline street when Free Birds was across from Goolrick's or maybe you have had the opportunity to see his work displayed at the Ponshop when they have their annual Remixed Vinyl Album Art Show.  He is also a regular at Tinsel Town hosted by the Sunken Well each December.  However, the best place to see his work and catch him creating now is at Darbytown Art Studio on Charles Street in downtown Fredericksburg.

Darbytown Art Studio and its Artists

Darbytown is a quaint studio which opened up earlier this year with a collection of wonderful artists.  Started by Jeannie Ellis as a place to escape and experiment with art, she found that the space was a bit big for her and could use some company.  Through a mutual friend, she found that Van was looking for a new studio and the great cooperative space began.  Not long afterwards, Van found Amanda Carter and thus began the newest edition to our area's collection of art and craftsman studios.

Jeannie Ellis, Van Anderson and Amanda Carter

Jeannie Ellis is a beginner in art, but you wouldn't know it to see her paintings.  She will tell you that she took one watercolor class in 1998 and was done.  Then out of the blue and with her love of nature, she wanted to try her hand at expressing the beauty in her surroundings.   What she is developing is a beautiful meticulous process in acrylic and watercolor painting within the last year.  To counteract the tedious detailed pieces of birds and other wildlife, she lets loose on the abstract acrylic pouring.  She will even comment that she "feels a pour coming on" after completing one of her more detailed pieces. These pours are just as beautiful as the others and allow you to see the tranquility of her happy place, a birds-eye-view of ocean waters.


Amanda Carter took up painting more than 8 years ago.  While living in Africa she developed her impressionistic style and over the years uses it in her landscape paintings.  This is matched along with her very detailed oil paintings of cows, cats, and still lifes.  As Amanda's daily life wound down and she could focus on the better part of life after retirement, she is more vigorous in her art which even includes modern vivid and African influenced quilting.  She uses the brightest colors which she says may have been influenced by her time living in both the Virgin Islands and Africa or her failing eyesight, she can't decide.  Either way, you can't help but be mesmerized by the fluffy clouds floating over a seascape or smile at the cute cows grazing in a field (she loves cows).                                                                                                     


Darbytown has since expanded after the three of them joined forces and now includes  Tronja, a contemporary artist illustrator.  They also have a jeweler and another tenant starting at the beginning of the new year.

They love working and painting together in this shared space.  It gives them a chance to receive constructive criticism, encouragement to try other techniques or subjects to paint and inspiration to create new works.  None of them got into art for the money, but have found in this studio, an appreciation for the hard work that goes into a piece and the joy of the piece being sold to a loving home.


December's First Friday Event

Every First Friday in downtown Fredericksburg the local art and pottery galleries have their opening receptions for their new exhibits. Many of the other local businesses are also open late and have special activities.

Darbytown premiered their gallery during last month's First Friday and has made their studio a must to stop in and see the new works each month.  December's First Friday is a great time to go see what they have made just in time for the holidays.  Van has painted beautiful ornaments and Amanda has a fantastic collection of small cat portraits.  But, all of them have created several small and larger works that would make that perfect personal gift for a friend or loved one.

If you miss out on First Friday, do not fret, their gallery is usually open Monday through Saturday from Noon to 5pm.  Plus, you can see and purchase their work during a few different shows this month.  Van will be at the Sunken Well for their annual Tinsel Town, December 7th and on December 12th, he is participating in the Holiday Pop-Up Art Shop at the Colonial Tavern.  You can also see works by both Van and Amanda currently at Lizz's Creative Juices.

Don't forget to check them out online and see what other upcoming events where the artists are participating:

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