“It’s not a hard place to be for an artist,” Erin Coffin said of Floyd County as she placed charcoal to paper while standing on the side of Roberson Mill Road.
Coffin is a plein-air (which literally translates from French to “in the open”) landscape artist and an art instructor at the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd. She recently spent time drawing the landscape scene of the Roberson mill.
Coffin, of Pilot, was inspired by the mill scene when she drove by it one evening.
“I drove down here about a week ago to see a friend, and, as soon as I came around the corner right there and saw the mill, I knew I wanted to come back and draw it,” she said. “It’s hard not to stop all the time,” Coffin said about her travels through the picturesque Floyd County landscape. “Good inspiration here.”
There is certainly no shortage of mills to be drawn in Floyd County. More than 200 of these buildings have been documented — some still standing and some reduced to rubble. The Homer Roberson Mill was built in the 1880s and used to process wheat, corn, rye, oat and a specialty buckwheat flour, according to a 2010 calendar published by the Floyd County Historical Society. For the month of March, the calendar features a 1940 photograph of the Roberson mill. The calendar, which contains photographs and facts about the county’s mills, is available at the society’s museum in downtown Floyd.
“I just can’t get enough of all the different structures,” Coffin said as she adjusted the darks and midtones of her drawing. “I’ve always gone back to black and white. I love to do stuff in color, but it [black and white] helps me really look at the tones, and not just get stuck in the middle, which is the hard part.”
– Matt Gentry | The Roanoke Times
ZIP Codes: A photographic journey through Southwest Virginia Explore the whole series here, at roanoke.com
24091: Floyd County by the numbers
- Average household income: $48,619
- Population: 6,786
- Households: 2,984
- Average age: 42
- Average travel time to work in minutes: 33
2009 estimates by Nielsen Claritas