Arrowmont Connections: Rachael McCampbell helps artists take the next step in their work

Arrowmont is a special community full of creative people – a family who know that coming together and making art is important. We talk a lot about the Arrowmont Experience – connecting through craft and community. That connection exists beyond physical proximity. It is in shared memories and new ideas. It lives in the friendships we make with each other. It grows when we learn and support one another.

Whether on campus or off, we are connected as members of the Arrowmont family. Over the next few weeks, we are going to share stories from our community of instructors, residents, and students in a new series, Arrowmont Connections.

Rachael McCampbell is an Arrowmont instructor and longtime friend and supporter. Having grown up on a farm in East Tennessee, Rachael has always been inspired by wildlife and the lessons in nature. After years of urban living in New York, Florence, Italy, London and Los Angeles, she moved to the countryside of Franklin, Tennessee. She writes,

“Back in Tennessee, I can observe and explore firsthand the landscapes that inform my work. Being a process-oriented artist, I let the painting inform me as opposed to the other way around. I have an idea of what I want to paint, but that rarely manifests as I envisioned. Those happy accidents and twists and turns become an integral aspect of my journey as a painter. The peeling walls in Tuscany inspired me years ago to paint using layers of texture which I like to add and remove until the story I’m trying to tell gets told. Taking an emotive, action-based approach to the application of paint, I work as much with splashes and drips of color as with carefully rendered lines. It also interests me to combine both realism and abstraction in my work, which I believe creates exciting paths for the viewer to explore visually.”

Normally, Rachael is busy throughout the year teaching individuals and small groups in the United States and abroad. “I take groups to Europe each year to paint, travel, write, eat and laugh. I am a ‘GOLDEN Acrylic Certified Educator’ and a ‘Gamblin Oil Paint Dedicated Teacher,'” she writes.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Rachael has had to be creative to connect with artists and continue to teach. Recently, she held her first remote ‘art critique’ designed to support and encourage artists who feel stuck on a current piece. The experience was such a success that she is hosting another session next week on Monday, June 1, 2020, at 3 pm Central Time. She describes her new art critiques: 

Do you have a painting you’ve been working on but are at that point where you don’t know what to do next? Would you like to talk with me about it? 

Well, I know how that is and after years of problem solving in both acrylic and oil, I can help you examine where you are in your work and discover what your next steps could possibly be.

I will have a very limited class of 5 students who will send me their work in advance with a few questions in an email. I will then screen share on Zoom, showing each artist’s work, and I will lead a discussion about your questions and possible solutions. Each student will learn not only from their painting being discussed but also from the other paintings’ issues. Everyone can add input in this discussion. Your work can be in any medium and style.


To participate, Rachael accepts the first five artists who sign up. She then reaches out to each person with a specific zoom meeting code and requesting well-lit photos and details of the artists’ work and their specific questions. She compiles all of the works into a PowerPoint and prepares her critiques and suggestions before gathering the small group on Zoom at 3 pm. She writes,

Critiquing art in a gentle, objective way, honoring each artist and their work exactly where they are, is always my intention.

Rachael’s first Zoom critique session was met with praise. One participant gave a testimonial: “I just had a zoom consult with Rachael on a commission I’m working on that was so helpful. Rachael is a wonderfully supportive teacher and is able to use technology to show you edits and give direction that you can actually view in photoshop which was tremendously helpful! I’m the first to be hesitant when it come to technology but zoom is so easy. And now I have the recorded session to refer back to which made it so worth it!”

The cost to participate in Rachael’s interactive Zoom art critique is $30. She asks anyone with questions to send her an email: “I plan to do this on a regular basis to help create community and stay connected with the amazing artists I know and haven’t met yet. Thank you so much! I look forward to seeing you for a fun and informative art critique!

UPDATE: Rachael McCampbell publishes article in The Tennessean

Rachael recently published an article discussing her views on the essential nature of the arts during the current pandemic. She writes,

“COVID-19 is an unusual truth finder, a seeker shining a spotlight into the corners of our lives we’d forgotten about and didn’t deem important. Suddenly grocery store clerks, farm workers and truck drivers are essential workers — weren’t they always? Well, now, they’re literally putting their lives on the line for us to live. We’ve gained a new appreciation for the basic machinations that keep our society functioning.”

Read the full article here:

Rachael McCampbell’s website:
Rachael’s Art Critique on Zoom:
Facebook: @RachaelMcCampbellArt
Instagram: @mccampbellart
Artistic Adventures Abroad:



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