Doreyl Ammons Cain, Creating Art in the Woods

by doreyl Email

Doreyl At ColorFest Downtown Sylva Western North Carolina, USA, 2010

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Please remember to put my art workshops on your schedule for 2015!To make a reservation or request information click on the comments link above. Below is the calender of my beginner & intermediate pastel painting workshops for this year- 2015 from 2-5 pm every 1st Saturday:

"Based on creativity, this nature oriented workshop will help you gain trust in your own talents and abilities. Using a unique layering technique, you can discover a whole new world of color and creativity!" says Doreyl Ammons Cain.

Open to beginners and artists that want to learn a new technique: To register for the April 4 workshop contact Doreyl Ammons Cain on-line at or call 828-231-6965 for more information. A $36 materials fee covers all art supplies needed for the workshop. Hope to see you here for the workshops, it is always great fun to create art together!

Am busy working on arts grants for my next 2  mural projects!

First is "Golden Threads" a mural celebrating the past, present and future of 'Shindig on the Green' mountain music event at Pack Square Park in Asheville, NC. The mural will be placed on the outside wall of Pack's Tavern, a historical landmark in Asheville's beautiful downtown area. Will be working with the Folk Heritage Committee to produce this 6' by 24' mural. What an exciting mural project!

“Little Place” is an art mural project that I am passionate about. "Little Place" artwork tells the stories of a whole community of people. This project brings together the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center (SVCAC) and Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA), two non-profit organizations whose mission is to preserve and honor Southern Appalachian Mountain heritage through the arts. Using art to honor the people and nature of the southern Appalachians has been my mission as an artist since returning home to the mountains of Western North Carolina twenty six years ago. Bringing this mural art to the public’s eye will bring many benefits to the small village at Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center and Graham County. This project will stretch my abilities as an artist and bring an artistic challenge, which is so necessary for growth. Will be updating as this progresses!

My greatest desire is always to benefit someone with my artwork, raise the spirits, turn a bad day into a good one and to raise awareness of the benefits of creating artwork for yourself. My murals are intended to put art before the eyes of everyone, so these benefits can reach more people! The mural below was done for the Cumberland Gap National Park.

Attend an art class in 2015 and feel the enjoyment of creativity! My classes are the first Saturday of every month starting in April.

Is creating your own art on your list of goals for 20015? One way to start is to attend an art workshop by a local artist!

Mural Artist Doreyl at Nature's Home Preserve, in the Blue Ridge Mountains


Been cleaning out my house to make room for 2015! Also setting my vision for the year and "getting more people involved in art" is my goal. Why? Because we are all creative and using our creativity will bring a happier more peaceful world! This is my purpose for creating public art, murals, art for books and on Facebook. Now, how can I reach more people with this message? Maybe you can help by sharing this with your friends...
Above is a panel from my mural 'Majesty of Mountain Heritage' which celebrates our Native, African and Scotch Irish American heritage.

Christmas in the Mountains churns up great memories of snow, sleds, snow cream and hot apple pie!

The Dillsboro Mural story The story of the founding of Dillsboro is most unusual. Very little has been written about it, so at first finding information about Dillsboro was difficult for mural artist, Doreyl Ammons Cain. Beginning in December 2012 with the help of George Frizzell, Head of Special Collections at the Hunter Library at Western Carolina University; Tyler B. Howe, Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribal Historic Preservation Specialist and Amy Ammons Garza, Co-Founder of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, the story finally unraveled.


"William Allen Dills was captured during the Civil War and was sent to prison in Camp Douglas Missouri. He found some books on numbers at the camp and studied about surveying. Once released he returned to Jackson County, where he became the county surveyor, met and married Alice Enloe. Together they built a home and farm overlooking Scotts Creek and the Tuckasegee River. In 1882 the first train into the area stopped on the Dills farm. So many people came that William laid out a whole town around where it stopped to service the visitors. The Jarrett House was the first hotel built and he laid out the rest of the town with streets and lots and established a mail line with covered wagons that traveled twenty one miles over a dirt road and Cowee Mountain to Franklin.

Meanwhile in the neighboring Eastern Band of Cherokee reservation, 3rd Principle Chief Nimrod Jarrett Smith (Tsaladihi.) was making great changes for the Cherokee as well. A well-educated and well-spoken man, he was fluent in both Cherokee and English. He was elected Principal Chief in 1880 upon the death of his immediate predecessor, Lloyd Welch. He exercised unprecedented influence among the Eastern Cherokee working actively for official US.. government recognition for the band as a tribe under federal law and was successful. He was also chiefly responsible for the incorporation of the Eastern Band as a legal entity by the North Carolina legislature."

William Allen Dills, his wife Alice Enloe and Chief Nimrod Jarrett Smith are honored in this mural which has taken Doreyl Ammons Cain nine months to complete. During this time she wrote grants to help fund the project, put the project on Kickstarter twice and appealed to the community for donations. A plaque honoring those who contributed is being attached to the mural.
The unveiling of the Nineteenth Century Dillsboro mural "On Hallowed Ground" will take place on October 5, 2013 at 10 am to open ColorFest, Art & Taste of Appalachia in Dillsboro. Eastern Band of Cherokee Principle Chief Michel Hicks will be on hand to officially unveil the mural, storyteller Freeman Owl will share stories about Chief Nimrod Jarrett Smith and Doreyl Ammons Cain will share her mural story. Cain says " This mural, "On Hallowed Ground"  truly reflects the spirit of Appalachia, one of creativity and courage!



Everyday We Become More

Each generation has it’s own unique flavor. No matter where you’re from, what you do, there’s something special about the world during your lifetime. The Revolution, the Civil War, ‘Big Depression,’ the Flappers, War Babies, “Flower Children, Viet Nam, The Tsusami... the list goes on. We’re all learning. When looking back a throughout my past, I wonder at the changes, the person I’ve become and the changes yet to come.

My life began at the base of Horse Shoe Rock in the Little Canada section of Jackson County, NC. Delivered naturally by a relative at home, I grew up living in the backwoods and exploring nature. By other’s standards, my family were poor mountain folks, yet I didn’t know life any other way. My Dad taught me that I could accomplish anything, if I really wanted it. I believed him and went on to work my way through college and on into a Masters of Arts in a special major, Biological/medical Illustration at the California State University at Long Beach. The arts became my life and tremendous rewards came through my chosen advocation. With every step in my world of art, I became more.

Today I have moved full circle back into living close to nature and creating large art murals about our beautiful mountain heritage. During my research about this area of the Smoky Mountains my eyes have opened even wider to the deep legacy we share here. Our roots intertwine with those who have paved the way and with every passing day we become more.

Some of those who lived here in the 1880’s are a part of my new mural “On Hallowed Ground.” One such person is Eastern Band of Cherokee 3rd Principle Chief Nimrod Jarrett Smith (Tsaladihi.) A well-educated and well-spoken man, he was fluent in both Cherokee and English, although he had learned Cherokee as a second language. He was elected Principal Chief in 1880 upon the death of his immediate predecessor, Lloyd Welch. He exercised unprecedented power over and influence among the Eastern Cherokee working actively for official U.S. government recognition for the band as a tribe under federal law and was successful. He was also chiefly responsible for the incorporation of the Eastern Band as a legal entity by the North Carolina legislature. In 1887 he was host to ethnologist James Mooney during Mooney's first visit to the Eastern Band in western North Carolina. In that year Mooney observed a Green Corn Dance that became the last such ritual enacted by the tribe for over a century.

The following was published upon his death in the Franklin Press, Aug. 9,1893 - Vol.VII, No.43 : “Chief Smith was the most prominent member of the Eastern band of Cherokees. He was born in Cherokee County about 50 years ago. He was pretty well educated, quite intelligent, a man of honor, and made friends among the whites wherever he went. To form his acquaintance was to become his friend. He was a man of splendid physique, straight and majestic in build, while his hair hung in jet black curls about his shoulders. He was one-fourth withe. He leaves a wife, and two sons and three daughters. He was a prominent Mason, and was buried with Masonic honors at Yellow Hill on the 5th inst. He was a good man, and the Cherokees will mourn his death.”

The unveiling of my mural “On Hallowed Ground” will take place on October 5, 2013 at 10 am to open ColorFest, Art & Taste of Appalachia in Dillsboro. Eastern Band of Cherokee Principle Chief Michael Hicks will be on hand to officially unveil the mural. Very appropriate, for Chief Hicks has achieved much for the Eastern Band of Cherokee and with every step forward, will become more.

Painting and Planting

Life is tough and wonderful all at the same time. Even though planting my spring garden is grueling, sweaty work, I love watching the tiny plants push their heads up through the earth. Even more, enjoying fresh, delectable tomatoes, squash, green beans, sweet peas and sweet corn during the summer months just makes warm mountain days extra special. Of course it takes more work to pick the vegetables, wash them and prepare them from scratch. You could say, what you remember as wonderful takes a bit of effort to produce, especially those creations that mean a lot and make a difference. Life is a ‘roll up your sleeves and get to it’ proposition.

This is especially true of the process of creating art in the woods. My yurt studio is a scene out of a movie script of utter chaos. Huge art boards nearly touch the 11 foot ceiling. Several levels of ladders face the boards, while a tiny stool sits near the bottom. Nearly 50 brushes ranging from tiny bristles to large flat sables and horse hair, all lay scattered as I use them. Like picking up pieces from shattered glass, the painting develops on the boards into balance, harmony and clarity...quite an adventure.

Creativity is a labor of love that once experienced, becomes a passion. Everyone can experience painting and planting, with some work. That’s why my art workshops for 2013 are entitled " "Discovering Your Hidden Artist." They happen the first Saturday of the month— 2 PM- 5 PM, Nature’s Home Preserve, Tuckasegee, WNC

This pastel art class is inclusive, yet sets you on a journey towards greater learning. You’ll experience the adventure of painting with pastels the nature around you. Creating a quick composition through placement of dark and light colors and simple shapes you’ll learn the basics in the use of pastels, color, composition and finishing detail. During inclement weather, the workshops are conducted in my Yurt studio at Nature’s Home Preserve. Weather permitting there is possible hiking involved and each person will complete a Plein Air or still life painting in every class. Some of the techniques covered are: spontaneous composition, working with complementary colors, figure painting, botanical drawing, landscape and still life painting. The fee is $36 each class with all materials furnished. Open to beginning and experienced art students.

Every day, I paint!

Making progress on painting the Dillsboro mural.  Every day is a new experience with color, harmony and perspective. Above are a few details from the mural, "in progress of course!" You can check in on my new Facebook page: Muralist Doreyl, to comment and/or have a conversation!


Ablaze with Life!

It’s remarkable... the stories, the creative spirit and shared heritage here in the mountains. To capture a small part of it is quite an accomplishment. Both my sister Amy Ammons Garza, storyteller and I, visual artist are dedicated to telling the stories through art and words.

Keeping warm inside my yurt studio has been a challenge throughout the month of February and is getting somewhat better this March. Yet, through all this I’ve been painting a large mural to honor that creative Appalachian spirit; it’s called "On Hallowed Ground.." Based on my rough pastel sketch, the mural is beginning to take on a life of it’s own. The sketch has helped me get started, yet the finished mural will be decidedly different! The two main characters in this pictorial epic into the 1800’s are a Dills couple, William Allen Dills, founder of the town of Dillsboro and his wife, Alice Enloe Dills. They sit at the top of a mountain overlooking the patchwork town of Dillsboro. The town is ablaze with life! Another interesting person who sits overlooking the scene is Col-lee, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Chief of the 1830’s. He looks so colorful, so interesting. What a tale he could tell!

“On Hallowed Ground” is an art mural project that tells the story of Dillsboro, North Carolina. Using art to honor the people and nature of the southern Appalachians has been my mission as an artist since returning home to the mountains twenty two years ago. Bringing this art to the public’s eye is extremely important, so large sized murals placed in public venues have become the true artistic expression for me. This project is already stretching my abilities as an artist and bringing an artistic challenge, which I am diligently working through.

About Doreyl Ammons Cain

Running the Blue Ridge Mountains as a child, examining bugs, sliding down rough rocks tumbling with water and delighting in the colors of nature all transformed me into an artist. As early as 4 year old I drew birds with a stick in the sandy road in front of our cabin. The backwoods became my laboratory and the mountains my inspiration.

Fascinated with nature, I grew up to become a Biological-Medical Illustrator, working my way into a Master of Arts degree from California State University at Long Beach. Returning home in 1990 after 30 years in California, I've loved the past 25 years of creating spontaneous artwork along side my sister, Amy Ammons Garza-storyteller. We co-founded Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA), a no n-profit group planting the seeds of heritage through the arts in the Southeastern United States and beyond. Online at

Today my husband Jerry and I live on a nature preserve which we pioneered throughout the past 15 years, creating a sustainable life-style for leaving a small footprint on the earth. We've found peace here in the solitude, protected by rows of mountains.  It's the perfect spot for creating art for children's books and for my own line of limited edition fine art prints & note cards. The first Saturday of every month artists gather on the preserve to take part in my painting workshop called "Finding the Hidden Artist" and they too find their place in nature here.

As a speaker I am co-host of CSA's "Stories of Mountain Folk" radio show and as an author I write a column called "Art in the Woods" & have written three creativity art books (the latest called "Learning to Fly") and co-authored "Catch the Spirit of Creativity." As an artist I am also a passionate muralist honoring the mountain folk and the beauties of nature.

Please click on the numbers below or catagories to the right to find out much more! Also click on: to view a few pieces of my art.

You can find my artprints gallery at

Listen to "Stories of Mountain Folk" at and purchase a book at


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