Painting history, connecting Forsyth County

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CUMMING, Ga. — Being Bryan White can be a juggling contest.

“You wear a lot of hats,” he said, referring to managing projects, presenting ideas, gathering historical information and creating the product that comes along with his work.

In 21 years, Bryan White and his wife Blayne have built a home, family and Whitelake Studio, the couple’s photography business.

They also run a commercial and residential expansion and a software business.

And the couple says they are not stopping any time soon.

Exactly what White does can be hard to define.

Some pieces are described as photographic paintings, but several labels simply use the term “artwork.” He works in photography, digital manipulation and traditional painting; often, his art incorporates all of these.

“I was a painter long before I was a photographer, so it’s a perfect combination,” White said.

White’s residential and commercial art business, “Artful Spaces,” branched out of Whitelake Studio.

“Too many times, the interior’s the last thing,” White said.

Artful Spaces uses art to build environments that reinforce the corporate image or personal identity.

Whitelake Studio is in the lower level of Bryan and Blayne’s home in Gainesville.

“It’s a skyscraper house on the side of a hill,” he said, and one they built from the bottom up.

Along with Whitelake Studios and Artful Spaces, Blayne White has launched her own business Scraproom, an all-in-one organizing, layout and design software specifically for scrapbookers. Running two businesses out of their house can get hectic, Blayne said. But the couple is excited about the future.

“We’re really looking to be the go-to source in Forsyth and north Georgia and expand,” said Bryan White.

White’s work is being considered for an installation in the new Forsyth County Courthouse.

Under consideration is the opportunity for White to convey the seriousness of a government building while bringing history to life.

White has done artwork for the Lanier Technical College Conference Center, the Forsyth Parks and Recreation Department and several Forsyth County public libraries.

White said the projects are a product of and a continuation of his relationship with the community, where he has lived for two decades.

He describes his work as a weaving of history that connects the past, present and future of Forsyth County.

One piece that has gathered considerable interest is the “Historic Collage of 1900 Drew Community: Who We Were,” which greets visitors at the Post Road Library.

The historic collage is an interwoven series of turn-of-the-century receipts, letters, buildings and portraits of the county’s founding families.

Many of White’s works, including “Historic Collage,” are painted in browns and warm colors, creating a nostalgic feeling. Still others look to the future.

“Tree of Dreams,” placed in the children’s section of the Post Road Library, is a colorful mural of a large tree interspersed with children engaged in activities such as horseback riding, exploring a safari or floating in space. The collage was based on the dreams submitted by Kelly Mill Elementary students. The children’s handwritten descriptions of their dreams can be read in a book next to the mural. At Lanier Tech Forsyth Conference Center, White’s work features landmarks in the community, including Poole’s Mill over Settendown Creek, sunflowers from the Anderson Sawmill and Farm and Sawnee Mountain. One of these landmarks was the current courthouse.“It was a very hard picture to get, but he was able to capture it and did a fantastic job,” said Sara Harrison, the Lanier Tech conference center director. White credits many people with making his work possible, including the project teams in Forsyth County, Lanier Tech, the library staff, the historical society and the Forsyth County Arts Alliance. “It’s been a collaboration,” White said, “all the way around.” For more information, visit www.whitelakestudio.com.

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