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story.lead_photo.caption Rita Earles mixes paints as she prepares to work on a painting in her home studio in Arkadelphia. Earles is one of 17 artists participating in the 2018 Caddo River Art Guild’s Round About Artist Studio Tour that starts Friday. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

— The public is invited to watch artists at work during the 12th annual Caddo River Art Guild’s Round About Artist Studio Tour.

Scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Oct. 21, the tour will feature 17 artists at work in eight locations. There is no charge for this self-driving tour.

“Free guide books will be available at two locations,” said Rita Earles, one of the founders of the art guild in 2006.

“The guide books will be available beginning Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Arkadelphia Arts Center, 625 Main St. in Arkadelphia, and the Diamond Lakes Visitor’s Center in Caddo Valley,” she said.

“We have mapped out a route that will minimize drive times. Patrons may visit the studios in any order they wish, but we have started the tour with artist No. 1 and have numbered the studios 1 through 17 in a sequence that will minimize the drive time. Plus, there are addresses on the map for GPS users,” Earles said.

“The tour is very doable in a day, or if visitors are really short on time, it can be done in a half-day,” she said. “The tour is about 50 miles in distance. We have one artist in Gurdon, and the others are in Caddo Valley or Arkadelphia.

“We have grouped some artists who may not have studios of their own into two central locations. Two artists will be set up at the Diamond Lakes Visitor’s Center, and six will be set up at the Arkadelphia Arts Center.”

Earles said one couple, John and Deborah Tackett, have studios at one location in Caddo Valley.

“And Mom and Dad — Farrell and Jim ‘Doc’ Ford — have invited Nic Chamberlain to set up with them at their studio in Arkadelphia,” Earles said. “Everyone else, including me, will be at his or her own studio.

“I have my studio on the lower level of my home. It looks out over a pond and a flower garden.”

Earles said she moved to Arkadelphia with her parents when she was in the sixth grade.

“I moved away to go to college, then lived in several places after I married. We came back to Arkadelphia about 14 years ago when my husband, Richard, took early retirement,” she said.

“We moved back to be close to my family. Our daughter, Becca, was born when we were living in Atlanta, Georgia. I had no support there, so I stayed home with her. We wanted to come back home,” Earles said.

“It’s nice to be back,” she said, smiling, adding that Becca and her husband, Richard, live nearby with their two young children.

Earles grew up watching her mother paint.

“I was in my teens when she went back to college to get her degree,” Earles said. “She would come home with her art assignment … with her paints and brushes … and I would paint with her. I was good. … I took art in school and excelled. I went on to college to study art.”

Earles is a graduate of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with a major in art.

“I planned to teach, but I graduated in December, so there were no teaching jobs available at the time,” she said. “I went into interior design for a while. I got back into art after I moved back to Arkadelphia and am now able to make a little living with it.”

Earles works in oil portraits, still lifes, landscapes and miniatures. In addition to being a member of the Caddo River Art Guild, she is a member of the Clark County Arts and Humanities Council, the Portrait Society of America and the Miniature Art Society of Florida.

Earles will be working on small portraits during the tour. She will also have other pieces of her work on display and for sale.

Other artists participating in the Round About Artist Studio Tour are as follows:

• Rosie Huddleston, with basket weaving.

• Regina Weiner, basket weaving.

• Debora Tackett, ceramics, photography and painting.

• John Tackett, watercolor and gourd sculpture.

• Farrell Ford, painting, fiber art and art glass.

• Jim “Doc” Ford, basket weaving.

• Nic Chamberlain, watercolor painting and equine art.

• Jerry Burrow, fused art glass jewelry, collage, encaustic, painting and enamel.

• Linda Duncan, silversmith jewelry.

• George Baker, woodcarving.

• Evelyn Good, painting, fiber art and jewelry.

• Wanda Huneycutt, painting.

• James Langley, painting and drawing.

• Paul Mann, woodworking with mixed materials.

• Johnny Whatley, oil painting and drawing.

“We see this tour as a fun, family-friendly event, but it will also be educational,” Earles said.

“Visitors will be able to see our tools and ask questions about how we work. People who come to the tour may be those who greatly appreciate art, or they may be dabbling in it themselves,” she said.

“We are really excited to be able to educate others by showing our work. Plus, it’s a great way for visitors to acquire early Christmas presents,” Earles said.

“There will be a wide variety of items shown on the tour, not only in style and medium, but also in price,” she said.

“We have always been lucky and had good weather for the tour,” Earles said. “Hopefully, it will be good for us this year.

“We will be here, rain or shine.”

For more information on the Caddo River Art Guild and its 2018 Round About Artist Studio Tour, visit the guild’s newly designed website, caddoriverartguild.com. Information is also available on at the Caddo River Art Guild Facebook page.

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