Rhonda Griffin Fine Art
A true southern artist with a rich history in agriculture captures the essence and charm of Georgia Grown commodities through painting.
She reflects on her childhood growing up in Adel, Georgia surrounded by agriculture and visiting her family farm in nearby Brooks County. Rhonda Griffin also recalls holidays and birthday celebrations when she was gifted paints, pencils, brushes, and art boxes by her loving family who nourished her natural artistic talents. She cherished art classes in High School and went on to pursue a degree in Fine Art at Valdosta State University where she explored painting and photography. “I studied abroad in London, England where I painted landscapes and architecture with watercolors. I have always had an appreciation for art, but my education and the years of ag experience that followed, helped to shape me into the creative person I am today.”
Following her college graduation, Rhonda accepted an Advertising Manager position at Kelly Manufacturing Company in Tifton, Georgia where she worked for seven years. KMC has been building dependable farm equipment for over 45 years complete with machinery for every phase of the farming process. Their industrial site occupies 28 acres and they employ an average of 210 employees year-round. “I spent 40% of my time in the field and in poultry houses capturing footage, 20% of my time with engineers and salesmen learning about the different product lines, and the remainder was spent designing.” Rhonda did all of the photography, filming, graphic design, and printing for the organization. She managed all in-house printing of brochures, newsletters, and marketing assets as well as designed and produced billboard graphics, television ads, and tradeshow booths.
Born and raised in Cook County herself, Rhonda desired to raise her family with experiences similar to her own. In 2015, Rhonda transitioned into a part-time role working for FMC in Adel, Georgia. FMC is a leading agricultural science that invests resources in discovering new active ingredients, developing innovative formulations and biologicals for the purpose of advancing precision agriculture technologies. “I worked on the entomology team and conducted field trials on everything from row crops to fruit trees; all commodities really. However, my focus was on cotton. I learned so many new things about the agricultural industry during my time pulling samples and working in the lab. I learned to identify every insect in southwest Georgia, including those that were most damaging to crops and the livelihoods of farmers.”
“Both of those chapters in my life left lasting impressions on me and a deeper appreciation of what I have access to. The crop seasons are now ingrained in my heart”
Upon leaving FMC in 2016, Rhonda devoted all of her time to raising her two sons. Well, not all of her time. It wasn’t long before the creative embers reignited in Rhonda. With a brush in her hand once again, she began exploring mediums and textures through coastal-themed paintings. By request from her sister (Jessie), Rhonda produced her first cotton boll painting in 2017. “It felt natural. There was an instant connection to what I was creating. I painted from memory, from history, from life, and in my own style.”
As her subject matter began to evolve, Rhonda’s style remained much the same. She uses a mixture of paints but relies heavily on acrylics due to the quick drying time. She also uses Blick gallery wrap canvases. “I take pride in having a process that is unique to me. I always start with a base paint texture, finishing with metallic highlights.” She describes her home art studio as messy but a great place to create. “I collect clippings and plants from the field to bring into the studio to study. And I am always listening to music of different genres while working.”
Rhonda began setting up a tent on the weekends in Barney, Georgia at the Burton Brooks Peach Shed. “My business exploded from there and I began accepting commissions for other commodities as the subject matter. I would get requests like ‘Can you paint peanuts, peaches, blueberries?’ and I would gladly make accommodations. These commissions gave me the confidence I needed to grow as an artist.” It did not take long for art collectors and ag producers alike to take notice.
With deep appreciation, Rhonda informs me of the overwhelming support she has received from state agricultural organizations. “The Georgia Peanut Commission and Premium Peanut have all purchased my products as gifts. BASF once commissioned hundreds of ornaments for their customers at cotton seed conventions in Florida and Texas.”This collective support helped me to expand my business and helped increase my visibility and exposure in the South.
Rhonda shares that her biggest success story was when the Georgia Pecan Growers Association purchased large pecan paintings that they then presented to the Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black, and the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp. “I cannot believe my paintings were on the evening news! It was a huge surprise and it brought me so much joy!”
You can commission your own custom piece by Rhonda Griffin or book her for a paint party by visiting her Facebook Page, Rhonda Griffin Fine Art. You can also find Rhonda’s artwork at the Farmer’s Wife in Bainbridge, At the Looking Glass in Hahira, at Bellou in Apalachicola, and at various festivals and shows like the Calico Arts Festival, Perry Fair, and Sunbelt Ag Expo.
Rhonda also sells her original pieces through the Georgia Grown exhibits as the majority of her artwork features Georgia Grown commodities. “It is a great fit and I enjoy working with them! When I first submitted my pieces there was not an art category so I submitted them under the retail/marketing category. That process has changed but I am currently the only Georgia Grown artist at this time.”
“I am only one person so I can only focus on a few key accounts, commissions, and shows.” Emotion builds as she shared that 95% of her shows have been canceled over the last year due to the pandemic. “So much was unknown and I wondered how I would make ends meet.” Yet, the success of the Farmer’s Wife in Bainbridge kept Rhonda’s business afloat. “Owner, Ashley Sheffield, kept me busy. My work would sell out and customers would be waiting in the store for me to arrive when I made my next delivery. I owe so much to that store and the Bainbridge community. Thank you!!”
In response to her rise to fame, Rhonda shares that it has been a joy using her two passions to bring attention to agriculture in southwest Georgia. “Agriculture and art have both been integral to my success. How lucky am I that my education and unique skills merge with my agricultural roots?”