Caleigh Parsons has always been drawn to art.
Her grandmother was a painter and her art hung in the family’s home.
“I loved it; I would touch it, you know, like feel the texture of it,” Parsons said of her grandmother’s art. “I just appreciated it from the beginning.”
She grew up with lots of artists in her family and began collecting original art when she was in her 20s. Parsons even tried to be an artist as a way to hone in on her creative side.
“I’ve tried to paint; I’ve tried to take photographs,” Parsons said. “I’ve tried all these different things, and I’m not really good at any of them.”
But she does have an eye for picking art for a particular space.
So, as she was trying to tap into her creativity and figure out a way to move past all the changes brought on by a pandemic, Parsons created The Untrained Edit – an online art gallery offering her clients original work by local, regional and other artists. She launched the website on April 1.
Parsons’ goal is to make art less intimidating or overwhelming for people and to show them that they don’t have to spend a fortune to have original art in their homes. Parsons will do virtual or on-site consults to help clients find art that fits their tastes and price points. She also helps coordinate artist commissions for specific pieces.
Personally, Parsons has a preference for saturated colors and abstract paintings.
“I love charcoal drawings and I love watercolor, but I’m always drawn to an abstract oil or acrylic on canvas where there’s just a lot of texture and a lot of color saturation, and the weirder the better,” Parsons said.
Art sold in The Untrained Edit varies widely in pricing. Pieces start at $25 for a young artist’s print and go up to the $150 range for smaller oil paintings or $600 for mixed media or even as high as $2,900 for a large oil painting on canvas. Art photography is also featured in the gallery.
Parsons’ online art gallery evolved quickly after it launched. While the art gallery is still online, The Untrained Edit now offers studio space for artists in a suite at Windmill Station on Headland Avenue in Dothan. There are five people now working out of The Untrained Edit’s studios.
“We’ve got a lot of local artists here in Dothan who don’t have spaces to work and it’s hard for an artist to rent one space for themselves,” Parsons said.
Along with providing work space, art classes are held at The Untrained Edit (the adult art classes for June have already filled). The classes are led by the some of the same local artists whose works are sold through The Untrained Edit’s online gallery. The Windmill Station site is not an art gallery, but Parsons has art all over the walls so that when someone from the public does come in, they will see work by local artists, giving the artists some extra exposure.
Erin Merrill is a local artist and an elementary school teacher. She’s leasing space from The Untrained Edit studios to do her art and is also teaching some of the art classes offered.
Like other artists, Merrill has put her art on Instagram but has never really enjoyed the self-promotion aspect of that. Merrill said she likes having Parsons behind her, advocating for her art.
“That’s what’s so good about The Untrained Edit for artists because we don’t have to do that side; we don’t have to do the administrative side, which first of all, I’m not any good at,” Merrill said. “I don’t want to sit around and constantly push myself. I want to be able to paint or try new things.”
And it’s not just adult artists whose works are sold by The Untrained Edit. The gallery features the anthropomorphic art of John Martin Stickler, who turns 13 this year, as well as works of other young artists.
An artist’s talent, Parsons said, shouldn’t be judged based on age or years of experience. Buying work by emerging artists allows people to find distinctive pieces without paying higher prices more experienced artists may charge for their work, Parsons said.
“Talent isn’t defined by age and creativity is not defined by age,” Parsons said. “I find that young artists tend to be less critical of themselves and they’re freer and more open to not having to stay inside the lines. I wanted to give them some exposure. I love that they found their talent at such a young age, and I want to help them with that.”
Peggy Ussery is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or 334-712-7963. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.