Tucked away in a historic neighborhood in Kingsport, Stewart and his partner began bringing their backyard to life about 25 years ago. All that time and several renovations grew the garden into what it is today, full of different types of flowers, trees and vines complete with a small pool on the patio.
A step into the garden leads the eyes into a vast grove of greenery, accented by the occasional bright flower. Vines spilling over the fence give the garden what Stewart calls a “whimsical, cottage” feeling, and plants separate different parts of the garden into their own separate “rooms” or patios.
“Gardening has always been a passion of mine,” Stewart said. “We entertain a lot, and we don’t like to go anywhere, so our house is a retreat for us and our friends.”
Stewart began his gardening after spending seven years in the Air Force, and nowadays says he spends about eight hours a week tending to or just enjoying his garden, but as autumn begins to dwindle and winter sets in each year, Stewart said he began to find himself at a loss for something to occupy his creativity during the months that it is too cold to do much in the garden.
That’s when he picks up the paint brush.
Stewart began painting about six years ago after a few crash-course art classes and some inspiration from his aunt. He began with watercolor paintings, and soon found his love for gardening bleeding into his life as a painter.
“It's something I started later in life to fill a creative niche,” Stewart said of his painting. “It's something I can't be without now.”
Stewart’s paintings feature a lot of cool colors like greens and blues, but every once in a while, a painting comes to life with a pop of warm colors, not unlike fierce, red flowers that pop through the greenery in his garden. Stewart also lets his work dry in his garden, vulnerable to the elements, in yet another way he incorporates his gardening into his painting.
“Gardening inspires me a lot, and it inspires my artwork,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s art has caught some eyes in the community, as his work will be featured during October at the Art in the Heart Gallery, 246 and 252 Broad St. in Kingsport, beginning Thursday, and all of his work will be for sale.
Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected]. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.