Local artist focuses work on West Virginia scenes

“If you can get a print, and it makes you just as happy, why not?” Octavia Spriggs, asked.

Hearing this from a painter was very refreshing.

I love prints and reproductions, which allow appreciation and enjoyment of a work of art in an affordable manner.

Octavia had other things to say about art that struck a chord with me. She talked about relatable art — she paints with an emotional connection and  found her customers often pick purchases based on similar connections.

Her watercolors primarily depict West Virginia scenes; landscapes and local botanical blooms.

“Sometimes people want something that highlights their love of the state,” Octavia said, while others want art to remind them of a specific spot.

When she started using watercolors a year and a half ago she immediately knew she wanted her painting to capture the beauty of Blackwater Falls. This painting, and the prints she’s made from it,  turned out to be one of her most popular pieces.

Painting from photos she takes herself while hiking with her husband allows Octavia to either paint a scene she’s seen exactly, or to apply creative freedom to blend images.

Octavia said she’s heard from customers that her paintings make great gifts — they are not only giving a beautiful artwork, they also give a memory.


Of course, if all there was to  her paintings was evocation of an emotion about a location, her customers would simply text their friends snapshots. Octavia’s watercolors render scenes in splendid colors, emphasizing highlights and shadows that evoke context in more than one moment in time.

“I’m really interested in how light plays off the landscape,” she said. This aspect of her work, along with the familiarity of the subject matter, caught my attention when I saw her work at the Morgantown Spring Arts Walk.

This was Octavia’s first time participating in an event as an artist, although her work is in Tamarack, in Beckley, and in Lamplight Gallery, in Thomas. She plans to attend more such events and to have a gallery show, most likely highlighting oil paintings.

She learned to work with oil paints in a class while attending WVU but started working with watercolors a year and a half ago, wanting a medium that would allow her to create art faster.

Octavia initially kept her water color pieces small  so that during the learning curve she would not need to discard large mistakes. But now she finds that she and her customers enjoy smaller images —   another aspect of her artistry that I fully appreciate. Slowly curating my own modest collection for my small home, large pricey works of art intimidate me.

Still exploring the type of art I want to look at every day, committing to a smaller (affordable) print that can share a wall with other pieces is just want I’m looking for.

Octavia scans, prints and processes her reproductions from her home, ensuring quality and care for each print while running small batches. She prints on textured paper, then tears the edges by hand.

“Even though it’s a print, it has a lot of love put into it,” Octavia said. “Everything is pretty hands-on.”

An individualized approach to reproducing her work allows her to print to her customers’ specifications, and keep the price-point low.

The actual beauty of her work plus Octavia’s mindfulness of her customers’ preferences add up to stunning local art.

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