Beth Meadows

Knox Heritage

Just Try it On!

Beth MeadowsComment

Do you have thoughts about things you want to do that won't go away?

Pushing away little nudges at my heart has been the story of my life for many years because of the nature of my work life and pursuit of art. The more I wanted to succeed in these two areas, the more I had to say No to any other thing that might take away my focus.

If I've learned anything about being an artist with a day job, it is this: If I want to say Yes to certain things in my life, I have to say No to way more, even good, fun, delightful things. Doing well in one area means staying focused and cutting out distractions in other areas. I get it. Sometimes begrudgingly, but I get it.

But about six months ago, I made the choice to start walking away from my day job (and its all-consuming nature) to see if there was a way to say Yes to some of the things I had put on the backburner. While it was difficult and scary to move away from that job, I knew in my heart it was time, so it was weirdly also very easy.

Over the past several months, to process all of the things I had put on the backburner, I wrote them down and brainstormed about each one. I ended up filling up an entire legal pad and started another. Apparently there were a lot of things I had pushed to the side.

Here are some examples of what came welling to the surface:

  • Write (Blog) consistently* (doing this now yo)
  • Take dance lessons
  • Teach art classes*
  • Buy glass dishes with lids and prepare meals for each week*
  • Go on a real vacation*
  • Go on so many vacations
  • Find an ocean and sit by it for many days*
  • Play soccer*
  • Learn how to make jewelry (soldering, metalworking)
  • Make a body of artwork & court some galleries outside of Knoxville*
  • Get together with (fill in the blank with 30+ different people)* 

As you can imagine, a legal pad-sized list is pretty overwhelming, but I keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time. This whole process has taught me two powerful things:

1. I want my day job to allow me to make art and to do as many things on my list as possible. I don't want to take work home with me on nights, weekends, or vacations unless, I am the owner of that business.

2. Finally going after dreamy or lofty goals demystifies them which is necessary to figure out which are worthwhile. The greatest gift of working through my list is realizing the items I thought I wanted to pursue, but in fact, really do not want to do.

I'll give you an example:

As you saw on my list above, I put down Teach Art Classes. I've thought about it for such a long time, BUT... Almost as soon as I sent that message out into the world, I realized I didn't want to do it at all. Surprise!

The thing about dreaming, which is all in your head, is you don't start out thinking about the work. The time. The effort. And if it's a business idea- networking, marketing yourself, coming up with prices, preparation, running errands, keeping the books.

So when a few people expressed interest in the classes, I responded. When I didn't hear anything back, I quietly backpedaled... and then ran in the opposite direction. I was so relieved. A dream I had dreamed for so long: Dead on Arrival. 

It was a little embarrassing, I admit, but the silver lining outweighed that feeling. Now I can check that puppy off my list. Actually, I checked off a whole page, and that's a gift. On to the next thing...

Sidenote: This doesn't mean I will never teach art classes, just not right now.

So after this happened, I was talking to Dale Mackey of The Central Collective about this notion of trying and quitting (gasp). Was it ok that I did this? And she tells me that if she has, what she thinks is a great idea, she will just go for it. If it loses steam or doesn't work out or she loses interest, she can allow herself to quit thinking about it and move on. And that's ok!

I think we all agree that this method may not be appropriate for every aspect of life, but as an entrepreneur, as a human who develops many interests, isn't it fun to think of all the things you can pursue with this mentality? It allows someone like Dale to dream uninhibited, which is a beautiful thing because, while some of her ideas don't come through, the ones that do are pretty brilliant, and our community reaps plentifully from her endeavors.

One last story:

There were these beautiful shoes at Style of Civil a few years ago. I had an art show there, and each time I'd go in, I'd stare at them, pick them up, hold them. I couldn't afford them so I wouldn't try them on until the owner said, "Let me get your size. Let's see if they work, and if they don't, you can quit thinking about them."

And so I tried them on. And they were extremely uncomfortable. And it broke the magical spell they had cast on me. I was free! 

(Please click here for poignant illustration).

What a delight to receive from a boutique shoe store owner such sage advice that has helped me live my life better. It's the main reason I'm writing again. Writing has been nagging me for so long and I now have the time and energy to turn toward it and say, "Let's do this. (Please don't embarrass me.)"

So I leave you with these words if something good has been tugging at your heart for a while:

Just try it on** (while also being safe, responsible, and caring for others).



*I have done these things or started the process. Three cheers for Lists!

**Name that movie

Historic Knoxville: Wooden Cut-out Series

Beth MeadowsComment
Patrick Sullivan's paint pen and acrylic on reclaimed wood

Patrick Sullivan's paint pen and acrylic on reclaimed wood

For the past several years, I've been making artwork for the centerpieces at Knox Heritage's annual fundraiser, The Scruffy City Soiree. It's been really fun to showcase my artwork made from reclaimed wood this way since it's directly inspired by historic preservation, and Knox Heritage raises money through this event to help save historic buildings. It's a lovely marriage.

Mary Boyce Temple House

Mary Boyce Temple House

In past years, I've painted mason jars on slate and wood to display. This year, I showcased my prints of mason jars on wood but also added a new element: historic Knoxville buildings cut out of and painted on reclaimed wood.

Primed Wood Buildings

Primed Wood Buildings

I used wood from The Salvage Room. It made sense to use reclaimed wood from historic buildings, but it proved to be a bit of a challenge. With these pieces, before I even touch a paint brush, cleaning, sanding, and cutting the wood is a laborious task. And while the thickest wood used (reclaimed stair treads) looks so great, it is definitely hard to cut with a small hand-held jigsaw.

Through this process, I've learned a lot about woodworking. I've gotten tips here and there from people, but I've basically been teaching myself. I'd love to invest in some really good tools in the future for projects like this, but for now, I'm using what I have. Not using the most efficient tools can put a damper on things, but I'm sure I'm building character with the added challenge. Perhaps.

The drawing begins

The drawing begins

Once I cut the buildings, I add wood filler to those that need it and then prime the wood. My plan was to use carbon copy paper to trace the buildings on to the wood because I had to make so many in such a short time, but I had trouble getting the image to transfer so I ended up drawing several free hand. 

If you haven't gathered it by now, I came up against many unexpected obstacles while making these. I learned a valuable lesson from these buildings:  When creating anything new, I need time to hit obstacles. Lots of time. Procrastination is my enemy!

Applying paint

Applying paint

Each building uses a combination of paint pens and acrylic, so they are like little drawings and paintings in one. They are made to sit on a table, shelf, or mantel so there isn't a bracket on the back for hanging. I added information cards to the backs of them to give some current details about the buildings. I chose seven buildings to create and made two of each. They were all chosen based on their significance to historic preservation and Knox Heritage over the past year.

I painted Patrick Sullivan's (Old City), 18th Street IGA (Fort Sanders), Pryor Brown Garage (downtown), Westwood (new KH HQ), White Lily (Old City), Mary Boyce Temple House (downtown), and the McClung Warehouse (downtown).

The finished product. 18th Street IGA

The finished product. 18th Street IGA

The first set of buildings made their debut at The Scruffy City Soiree on September 27 at The Standard on Jackson Avenue. Those attending the event could purchase them at the end of the night  and partial proceeds went to Knox Heritage.

White Lily Building at The Scruffy City Soiree

White Lily Building at The Scruffy City Soiree

In the end, I wasn't able to finish all of the buildings before the event, so I'm currently creating the rest now. Ones leftover from the event are available at Nostalgia on McCalla. Feel free to contact me if you're interested in one!

The Scruffy City Soiree about to come to a close.

The Scruffy City Soiree about to come to a close.

Now Showing at Coffee & Chocolate

Beth MeadowsComment

I currently have artwork on display at Coffee & Chocolate. Below are details and photos of the work. I hope you can find the time to see it this month!

Photo by Matthew Higginbotham

Photo by Matthew Higginbotham

Models and Buildings

Drawings by Beth Meadows

at Coffee & Chocolate, December 2013

327 Union Ave SW, Knoxville, TN 37902

All work is priced upon request. Please contact

Patrick Sullivan's (on black)  paint pen and acrylic on acetate, lace and fabric, recycled frame

Patrick Sullivan's (on black) paint pen and acrylic on acetate, lace and fabric, recycled frame

Artist Statement:

I have a strong interest in things that are beautifully crafted and designed to stand the test of time. I also listen to pop music and buy things that are made to be thrown away year to year.


My subject matter is historic Knoxville buildings and models from fashion magazines. The frames used for the models are recycled and the windows have been salvaged from historic buildings in Knoxville. 


As I make these drawings with previously discarded materials, I think about their original creator, the time and thought they put into what they made.  

Historic Knoxville Buildings  paint pen and acrylic on acetate, lace and fabric, framed in salvaged windows and recycled frames. Photo by Matthew Higginbotham.

Historic Knoxville Buildings paint pen and acrylic on acetate, lace and fabric, framed in salvaged windows and recycled frames. Photo by Matthew Higginbotham.

I wonder: If the flippant consumer determines the value of things, won't even the most well-designed objects be subject to the landfill?


I like to imagine that one day I might walk into a thrift store and see one of my paintings hanging on a wall. What one might regard as a debilitating thought has pushed me to make better work. Better work that does not become too precious to me as the maker. 

Two Models  ink, marker, and colored pencil on paper, recycled frames

Two Models ink, marker, and colored pencil on paper, recycled frames


Beth moved from her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee to Knoxville where she graduated from the UT with a BFA in Studio Art in 2007. She currently manages The Salvage Room for the non-profit Knox Heritage, receiving and selling historic building materials. She is also the Director and an artist of 17th Street Studios, a work space for artists near downtown Knoxville.

Models in recycled frames. Photo by Matthew Higginbotham.

Models in recycled frames. Photo by Matthew Higginbotham.

Tiny Historic Buildings

Beth Meadows3 Comments

Last week I was busy making drawings for a Knox Heritage fundraiser called the Scruffy City Soiree. Last year, I painted mason jars on slate tiles for their table's centerpieces. This year, I drew historic Knoxville buildings, and they were really fun to make.

Most are about 4 x 6", drawn on two sides of a piece of acetate and layered on top of fabric. Then they are placed in vintage frames.

There is a bumper sticker I've seen that reads "Historic Preservation is the Ultimate Recycling." These drawings of historic homes and buildings are made using mostly recycled materials- the frames, acetate, and fabric are from thrift stores or have been given to me. It's one of my favorite things to do with art- take discarded items and make them something precious again. 

I hope one day I'll be able to do the same with a beautiful old building. That could be the ultimate work of art.  

At this moment, I haven't listed any of the remaining drawings from the event online to sell, but if you are interested in purchasing one, please contact me. Through the end of October, partial proceeds will benefit Knox Heritage. They will be hanging at Old City Java beginning Wednesday, October 2, but please contact me if you'd like to see them before then.

I'd also be very interested to make new ones with the building, house, and fabric of your choice, just let me know!