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The Watercolors are Coming

Mama was a frustrated artist. Several times she mentioned that she’d like to try painting. So, one June for her birthday, I bought both of us a series of classes in watercolor painting. I thought it would be fun mom-and-daughter connecting time. This was in Shady Cove and taught by a patient woman named Dawn who could paint, unlike us. But she led us to think we could, and we believed her.

I purchased all the paraphernalia listed for the course and felt closer to being a real artist just carting out a bag filled with paper, brushes, a small palette for mixing colors like a professional, and a smattering of watercolor paints. At the time, I did not own a black beret, a deficiency since rectified.

About two or three sessions in, I realized I could do just as good a job with my feet. I could not draw simply because I bought the materials, had use of my hands, and listened to the instructor. Something like talent would have been a nice addition, but it wasn’t a course requirement.

Mama was still frustrated and announced to the class that she understood why Van Gogh cut his ear off. I had the audacity to keep a couple of the “landscapes” I created (in the garage) and even gave one of my hand-painted cards to a friend I no longer see. Despite our unrealistic optimism at first, we did enjoy our time together, and I’m thankful for the memory now that she and Vincent are likely creating masterpieces in another dimension.

One thing that hit home with me after my sorry lesson was that real artists earn their money. I’m definitely not saying that one shouldn’t try and have fun, and I suspect there would have been incremental signs of improvement had I stayed at the effort, but some among us have a gift for such things — an ability that transcends learning the craft and is a part of us.

Beginning Saturday, Oct. 4, The Rogue Gallery and Art Center at 40 S. Bartlett St. in Medford will host the Fall Transparent Exhibit of The Watercolor Society of Oregon — Roguish Affair. This exhibit contains 80 juror-selected pieces by some of the best watercolorists from all over the state — 11 are from Southern Oregon. Twenty paintings will receive awards and continue with a traveling exhibit to various locations around Oregon.

This is a rare opportunity to view this particular exhibit locally and maybe discover a favorite or two to brighten your space.

There is no admission fee to the Rogue Gallery, a nonprofit concern, though donations are encouraged, and a portion of all sales from the show will go toward the gallery’s many community programs. Normal hours for Saturday are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a special reception open to the public this Saturday, Oct. 4 from 4 to 6 p.m., which will afford the best opportunity to meet the artists and become familiar with the WSO. There will also be a reception during Third Friday Art Walk on Oct. 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. The show will remain up through Nov. 14.

Even though my work may not be up there with the painting elephants of Thailand, I’m glad Mama and I gave it a shot.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer who works from a 1900 farmhouse in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.