Who Am I?
My name is Alan Shuptrine. I am a watercolor artist living on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. (Please read my bio at the top right of this page). With my wife Bonny, I own a fine arts gallery, with businesses of restoration, conservation, and crafting one-of-a-kind gold leaf frames.
All my life I have wanted to paint a collection of thematic watercolors that capture the heart and soul of the Appalachian Mountain culture. I also want want to expose the significance and irony of serpentine, a dark green and mysterious mineral vein that lies beneath the Appalachian Trail.
My project will have a Coming Home theme: I often ponder why people live where they live, why they feel a kinship to a certain area, or feel a spiritual connection. I find that when you ask people about this, they simply say "it just feels right" or "it feels like home." I understand that feeling too, and I have always loved family and home. If you ask anyone living along the Trail, "Where is your heritage?", the majority of them will say English, Irish, Scottish, or Welsh. That's because they are the offspring of the early British settlers who moved into the rugged Appalachians and stayed there, because it "felt like home".
But there is something deeper than home--a buried secret:
Running from Springer Mountain, Georgia and ending in Maine where the Trail stops in Mount Katahdin, the serpentine mineral (image below) is sometimes just inches under your feet and at other times it's a half mile deep in the mountain. Because of it, we know that Britain was once connected to the Eastern Seaboard millions of years ago. Continental drift pulled Britain away from our coast, and as the Atlantic Ocean was formed, the Appalachian Mountains were severed. Consequently, there is a matchbook vein of the same serpentine in the British Isles which snakes its way from Cornwall to Iceland to the Arctic Circle. So, when the 18th Century settlers moved into our Appalachians, they were actually coming home to the very same mountains (and to the very same serpentine) they had left an ocean away. This is what I find so fascinating ! By creating this collection of paintings, a monument to Appalachian Mountain culture, there can be an awareness that we share more than just traditions with our brethren across the pond.
But, I have never been able to leave my work and fulfill this passion. A little over a year ago, my wife and I downsized our businesses to prepare for this dream. We are taking a leap of faith that I will still be able to support my family, both during and after this project is completed.
My interest in preservation and conservation of our wilderness has spilled over into my 30-year career. I've been an outdoorsman and sportsman all my life, from childhood days where I would pass the time climbing trees, to later enjoying hiking, fishing, and hunting. My wife and I have always supported the protection of our lands, and we are actively involved in The Tennessee Land Trust, The Lookout Mountain Conservancy, and we support the Tennessee Wilderness Act.
Now that my two boys are young men, I am more at ease with leaving my family and taking chances! This is my chance to fulfill a dream: to leave a monument of Appalachian Mountain culture, celebrating their heritage and providing a visual testament to the land.
For the last 20 years, our gallery has sold fine American art to private collectors and museums, including the works of my father, the late Hubert Shuptrine (1936-2006), who was nationally acclaimed and best known for his collaborative coffee table book titled Jericho: The South Beheld (Oxmoor House, 1974). Written by James Dickey, author of Deliverance, Jericho sold over a million copies in its first edition and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
I am hopeful that my collection of paintings will one day be published in a coffee table book similar to Jericho.
As a Kickstarter backer, I hope you will allow me to fulfill my dream of this body of work, these paintings, that will serve as a testament to the culture, the people, and the land along the Appalachian Trail through the eyes of an artist.
Below is an image of one of my recent watercolors from the Trail titled Into the Clearing (Smoky Mountains, Tennessee). It is framed in one of my handcarved rustic surrounds with embedded serpentine stones and black mica.
What Are You Backing?
You are backing the creation of a collection of paintings depicting the land, people, and culture along the Appalachian Trail. This collection will serve as a testament to the history of Appalachia, and will preserve this culture in timeless paintings. In order to capture the very soul of this place and its culture, I will need to immerse myself into it and experience the Trail with my own two feet (I will be hiking and painting along the way). Your pledge will give me this rare opportunity and you will be a part of my journey. The finished paintings, called The Serpentine Chain Collection,will each be showcased in a one-of-a-kind rustic frame adorned with serpentine stones incorporated into the design (as seen in the example above).
My video above only scratches the surface of my entire project. I'm dedicating the next several years of my life to it. This first of several Kickstarter campaigns will support Phase 1 (2014), which will cover some expenses needed now to get on the Trail and continue the journey!
My fervent hope is for these paintings to be shared with others and exhibited in museums, colleges and universities, and historical institutions in our Eastern Seaboard. Afterwards, I hope they can travel abroad to venues in Great Britain. The educational impact of this project would be immense and it would make for an interesting and inspirational exhibition.
BACKER FULFILLMENT: Part of your pledge will go towards your backer reward! This part will be relatively larger or smaller, depending on which reward you choose. Thank you so much for pledging, and I hope you will enjoy seeing the paintings which you had a role in supporting. You will be able to view them on my website (www.alanshuptrine.com) and on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/alan.shuptrine). You will also be able to keep up with me on the Trail as I will post how things are going during my journey!
Where Will All This Take Place?.
- The AT stretches 2155 miles from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. For this first Kickstarter, (Phase 1), I'm headed to explore and paint scenes of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and southern Virginia.
- Our Appalachian Trail passes through 14 states in the Eastern Seaboard
- Special gear, such as a good pack with a waterproof fly, raingear, and an excellent pair of boots will be needed to kick this (Phase 1) off properly. Thankfully, I have the support of Rock/Creek Outfitters (located in Chattanooga, Tennessee). The experts at Rock/Creek will work with me to determine the best gear and tools necessary to ensure a safe and environmentally conscious hike. For getting on and off the Trail, I will be working closely with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and some of our other National Park Service affiliates.
- This Kickstarter (Phase 1) will run through November 16th, 2014. If successful, it will enable me to continue the project into spring of 2015. I have already started the journey towards my 60-70 paintings goal with completing eight (8) paintings. Among them are Into the Clearing, Falling, and Spring House. With the funding from Kickstarter, I can continue to hike the Trail in longer stretches and will be able to travel and paint without being interrupted, which greatly helps catalyze the creative process. Below are images of my hiking companion, Captain, an AKC registered German Shepherd that my wife Bonny gave to me for my birthday this past spring. He is ready to start hiking with me and will be 7 months old this October !
WHY DO I WANT TO DO THIS? (THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!):
We all know the Appalachian Trail is a rugged path stretching 2,155 miles from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. It was used by the Native Americans for trade and travel routes. And, we’ve all heard stories of hikers and their grand adventures; however, I'm interested in something deeper: Celebrating the connections between the mountain folk of Appalachia with their cultural and historical counterparts in the British Isles.
I want to preserve these people and their way of life so future generations can become knowledgeable about the true people of Appalachia. As time progresses, so many of the "old ways" are being replaced with technology and a faster pace of life. I feel that in order to preserve this heritage, it needs to be captured in a respectful and timeless light, before it is lost entirely.
You Should Support My Project Because:
Without your help, I cannot immerse myself into the culture of Appalachia to produce this collection of paintings. It will take a real disconnection from my businesses and my everyday current life to capture the very soul of the land and people.
THIS PROJECT CAN ONLY HAPPEN.....
WITH YOUR HELP! This beautiful project can only come to fruition with Kickstarters like you. I have many exciting backer rewards and experiences to share, so please pledge today so we can share this journey together. Thank you so much!
A note on backer fulfillment and extra reward options:
I am offering a wide range of pledging levels for anyone who wants to make this dream a reality. If you pledge enough to own one of my original watercolors, we will take a great journey through its creation! I know all of my past painting collectors well and consider them close friends. You will be a part of this incredible ride too, and you will own one of my finest works in watercolor realism. If there is a collector who wants a larger painting than what is described, we can discuss this option. And if a painting owner wants to get out on the Trail and see its beauty firsthand, we can find a way for that too!
Risks and challenges
Every project comes with its set of risks and challenges to overcome. I can say that there are risks and challenges for my project, but they are easily dealt with and I am fully prepared.
As for backer fulfillment, I am prepared to handle this and, I can personally assure that all backers will be fulfilled with their rewards.
The backers pledging for this project are very important to me, and they will not be overlooked! As I immerse myself into this project, I want to thank all of my friends and supporters for over 30 years of being in business. I can't wait to wait to kickstart this new adventure, with your help!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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