Artist Autumn Cobeland fell in love with the Raleigh Greenway when she began training with her husband for a triathlon. The couple’s intense training regimen called for wide open spaces and trails for running and biking for miles at a time, so they took to the Greenway and discovered a priceless Raleigh asset that would influence her career for years to come.
Autumn, a Raleigh native with a deep respect for the natural world, grows her own vegetables in a backyard garden and is awaiting the arrival of a personal chicken coop. She has been painting and selling her art in Raleigh since the early 1990s. Since the sixth grade, Autumn has been determined to make a career as an artist. After completing her fine arts degree at Earlham College, she traveled around the world studying art and being influenced by styles and art forms from an array of historic periods and geographic locations. She has studied art in Florence, Prague and Japan.
Before they began training for triathlons, Autumn and her husband were aware of Raleigh’s Greenway system, but never truly recognized what a valuable resource it could be. “We knew the Greenway existed but had no concept of how extensive it was. When we started biking and running we discovered how beautiful the Greenway is,” said Cobeland.
She views the trails as a convenient, healthy and eco-friendly way to get from point A to point B, with the added benefit of beautiful scenery. “If this was Europe there would be so many people on the Greenway, they would have to have stoplights,“ Cobeland said
The Capital Area Greenway Trail System is a network of more than 117 miles of recreational trails and open public spaces that run throughout the Greater Raleigh area and connect many of Raleigh’s parks and other community features. Many of Raleigh’s most stunning ecological and cultural assets can be experienced along these trails, including the Museum Park at N.C. Museum of Art and Lake Johnson.
After experiencing the beauty of the Greenway in its many locations through the changing seasons, Autumn was inspired to use art to bring awareness to this beloved trail. So Autumn began creating paintings of the Greenway and surrounding natural areas. Her work began with 12 specific scenes from the Greenway, each utilizing a specific color scheme. The colors range from natural warm colors, like burnt orange, red and brown, to a more psychedelic palate including bright pinks, blues and neons. Autumn’s personal favorites, though, are her pieces which employ a palate directly inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec, a Post-Impressionist French artist of whom Autumn is particularly fond. She often channels his style, color and poster-style composition into many of her works.
Autumn is similarly influenced by Japanese woodblock prints and lithographs, which she experienced on her travels in Asia. She is drawn to the flat planes of color in the prints and works to recreate a similar effect in her paintings. Such endeavors are unique since Autumn uses a brush instead of blocks of wood, stone, or metal plates and paints using gouache, watercolor, acrylic and occasionally color crayon.
Autumn was enjoying experiencing the Greenway from an artist’s perspective, taking photographs and creating paintings of them, when she realized she could also do something to give back and benefit the trail she so loves. She now donates 20 percent of her sales from her prints to the Greenway through the Triangle Greenways Council and the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation department. She hopes that her art will appeal to those who already love the Greenway and will inspire others to come to Raleigh to visit and perhaps even take back a momento of their time along her beloved, winding path.
In addition to her Greenway images, Autumn paints commissions of French poster-inspired animal paintings. She created a series of animal posters based on signature beers for the walls of Boylan Bridge Brew Pub. She also collaborates with a partner for large-scale mural works, examples of which can be seen in the Cameron Village Public Library, Café Carolina and at 700 Glenwood Ave.
Autumn continues to develop her style by participating in artists’ workshops and taking classes every chance she gets. She creates her Greenway paintings at her studio space at the Wine and Design building on Bickett Blvd. Her work can also be found at Nofo and City of Raleigh Museum.
Check out Autumn’s upcoming show at Margaux’s Restaurant in North Raleigh, opening Mar. 1. There will be a reception celebrating the exhibition on Mar. 20, the first day of spring. The show features many of Autumn’s signature Greenway works as well as two new paintings done on large wooden doors that she discovered at Habitat for Humanity.
Check out her website for contact information.