A longtime visitor and now resident of Mountain View, Louisiana native Glenda Tooke is one of the new additions to this fall’s Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour.
Glenda paints and decorates natural objects such as gourds, cypress knees, and okra pods.
She and her husband, David, first came to Mountain View in 1973, and for many years they visited regularly, RV-ing with friends and spending a week here in the spring and fall.
“This is a really neat community. You don’t find this type place everywhere,” she said.
The couple bought a house here about three years ago and now spend more time here than anywhere else, although they travel back to their property in Louisiana regularly.
As well as a good spot to grow her own gourds, Glenda is fortunate to have cypress trees growing on her property in Louisiana.
For those not familiar with cypress, which grow in swampy areas, the “knees” are woody structures that project out of the ground above the tree’s roots. They look like stalagmites growing on the floor of a cave, and while their purpose is not fully understood, they are thought to help aerate the roots or to help anchor the tree in the soft ground.
David harvests the knees with a chainsaw and then boils them so the bark can be easily removed. They are then left to dry for several months, and the bottoms are sanded to give them a flat base. When dry, they are surprisingly lightweight and have a smooth texture and a natural saddle-brown color.
Their varying shapes serve as an inspiration for the finished piece – Native American figures, Christmas Santas or Swedish “tomte” with pointy hats.
Gourds also come in all shapes and sizes and lend themselves to many subjects, especially Southwestern and Native American designs, wildlife, and holiday themes.
Glenda paints primarily with acrylics and also does some carving and woodburning to create various designs.
Most of her creations are decorative, but some have other functions, such as a gourd lamp or night light. These have a light inside and small holes drilled in them to create a design that is projected on the walls and ceiling when it’s dark.
A “thunder drum” is a decorated gourd with a drum membrane across the bottom and a long spring that makes a sound like thunder when it’s shaken.
Glenda’s Louisiana heritage is also reflected in several of her designs, which feature the plants and wildlife of that area.
Glenda loves Mountain View because it reminds her of the small town in Northern Louisiana where she grew up.
See the complete feature in the Aug. 29, 2018 issue.