Brave Beginnings

A year-end studio cleanup found me sorting through stacks of practice paintings and drawings. The effort quickly became a self critique of what I’ve accomplished since leaving the work world and focusing on my art skills. 

Reviewing my efforts chronologically, I see progress, largely due to attending frequent artist lectures, demonstrations and workshops at Daniel Smith. This art supply store is an amazing resource for all kinds of art makers. I’ve also taken local figure drawing classes and online classes through Artists Network. When I’m stuck for ideas, I enjoy working my way through instructional books for design, drawing, watercolor and pastel painting. And I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit, watching watercolor demos on YouTube. I joined the Northwest Watercolor Society to connect with other local painters. I’m even volunteering for the group. In all, the past three years have given me a range of good experiences and now it’s time to find my personal style and become a bit braver about sharing my artwork. 

So this week I hushed my inner coward and entered my first competitive NWWS watercolor exhibit. I picked three of my practice works, all painted from my own sketches or photos, so they are my original work, rather than student exercises. I don’t expect to have any of my entries accepted this time as I am not in the same league as the painters whose work I’ve seen in several NWWS shows. But I think it’s good experience to learn to photograph and prep my images to the NWWS specs and then use their online entry system. (I actually uploaded the wrong file sizes initially, but with some help from another member, I finally did it.)

My entries:

Bloedel Path, 2018, Copyright Peggy Willett

I’ve done several pastel and watercolor studies of this path lit by a bright tree at the Bloedel Reserve. It was on this 2016 visit to the garden that I first saw a flyer for Julia Cameron’s book “It’s Never Too Late” about creativity for “retirees and other creative souls.” Her book set me on my own artful path, so it seems appropriate to enter a painting from the photo I took that day. 

Pearly Morning Alki, 2019, Copyright Peggy Willett

I often walk on Alki beach in the morning. It has a nice flat stretch of waterfront where I can do my two miles and then stop for coffee at any number of cozy places and watch ships and birds and people. I like the contrast between the soft edges of the trees, water and beach, and the hard lines of the walking paths, the seawall, the steps going down to the sand. Some mornings, the light is almost pearlescent. 

Mary’s Poppies, 2019, Copyright Peggy Willett

My daily walks to the market take me past my neighbor Mary’s rockery garden, which glows in summer with California poppies. This view is looking to the North and I really like the way the chain link fence leads your eye into the picture. 

My favorite study of her poppies, however, looks to the South. I could not enter this one into the NWWS show, however, because at just 5×7 inches, it’s too small. Perhaps I’ll paint a larger version next.

Poppies, 2019, Copyright Peggy Willett