This weekend was the Fall Convention of the Watercolor Society of Oregon. I was really lucky because it was in Salem (where I live) so it was super easy. I was also able to offer accommodations to my friend, Sandra Pearce, and when she won third place (!!!!) at the show, I think some of her prestige rubbed off on me.

Sandra and I went to the juror meet and greet on Friday night, then to dinner where we saw lots of painting possibilities (that’s what happens when artists get together…)

Saturday morning, Sandra went to teach a plein air class at Minto Brown, and I started the first of my four classes of the day.

Of course, I perused the vendors first and spend FAR too much on two TOTALLY necessary brushes, a cradle board, more matte medium, and lots of (free?) swag.

Class #1: Color Confidential

Ruth Armitage and Beth Verhayden gave a talk on use of color in painting, focusing on the emotional impacts of color choice. It was really good and gave me a lot to think about. As a “getting started” excercise they asked for volunteers to play a “Jeapordy”-like game on color. I volunteered and walked away with a tube of Quinacridone Coral by Daniel Smith. Score!

Class #2: Paint and Collage like Picasso

Jean Lea, a fellow Salem artist, lead this interactive session. Class participants had been told to bring a variety of items and use them to experiment.

I apparently didn’t read the instructions well, so I had just brought my sketchbook, pencils, eraser, and pens. I decided to play anyway, stealing some paint from a neighbor to finish the experiment.

I flipped through my sketchbook and saw this sketch from the spring convention.

Sketch 3: Working toward detail and mood.

And so, by the end of the class, I had created this!

And I had taken this little doodle…

Marsh wren

… to this.

I might even paint it someday.

Juror Critique

Next I went to the juror critique. Our juror for the show is highly respected painter Robbie Laird. I would have liked to take her workshop, “DISCOVER THE ABSTRACT NATURE OF NATURE” but I have this pesky job.

I don’t believe in submitting images for critique that you are “finished” with; I like to submit images and I haven’t completely signed off on. This time I got down to the submission wire and realized I didn’t have anything special to submit, so I send in this little experimental piece.

I had briefly spoken to Ms. Laird on Friday at the meet and greet and she had asked me if I was putting something in the critique. When I told her yes, she asked me (something like), “Do you really want to hear my thoughts or are you just wanting to show off?” I told her with a laugh that I had submitted an experiment that I was stuck on and I would like to hear her thoughts on getting unstuck.

Ms. Laird had each submitter (not just me) stand up and explain what we were hoping to get out of the critique. She had a very pleasant way of tactfully saying something interesting about each piece. When it was my turn she told me that she was enjoying my experiment, really liked the area around the head, but that the elbow was too stark. Fair enough. She said a little more, but the moral of the story was to keep going!

At the beginning of the critique, Ms. Laird imparted this quote from artist Mary Whyte.

Mary tells her students that they need three things to become accomplished artists:

  1. Something to say

  2. The ability to say it

  3. The courage to do it


I had my marching orders! I’ll go back and do some more and see if I can resolve this piece.


The class I had REALLY been looking forward to, however, was the last of the day. I had organized all the break out sessions and I had talked Margaret Stermer-Cox (Peggy) into teaching a class entitled, “Can You Simplify?” If you’ve seen Peggy’s stuff, you’ll see why I was so excited; it’s GORGEOUS and full of big shapes.

Peggy might not be the most natural teacher, but she has a lot of artistic training and knows her art history. She lead us through a layout exercise.

Sorry my picture is blurry; this time it wasn’t intentional

Then we added a figure to it. I used the same figure study as earlier in the day and came up with this.

I’m really going to try to paint this!

Having spent all my money and with my brain on fire, I headed home. I decided a few conventions ago that I just don’t like going to the awards dinner, and even though I wanted to support Sandra (3rd place!!!). my sanity won.

Sunday – Juror’s Lecture

Sunday is always the WSO business meeting followed by the juror’s lecture. The business meeting was pretty standard fare. The lecture was good, a bit of a preview of the workshop. I’m going to try a few of the things she demonstrated. It looked like fun.

So, another WSO convention in the books. I’m tired and my mind is busy. If only I didn’t have to work tomorrow, I’m sure I could get lots of painting done!

One last note

One of the things I  like most of the conventions is that when you go, you get to talk to about 200 people who are just as excited about geeky painting stuff as you are. If someone says they bought a color, everyone else wants to know which one. You can talk about your struggles, your failure, and your successes and the other artists nod knowingly.

Everyone needs that a couple times a year.

2 thoughts on “My peeps ask, “What color did you get?” with deep and sincere interest”
  1. I love quinacridone coral! It was a fun color jeopardy session and such an interesting way to start the presentation. Thanks for your kind words about “Can You Simplify” and now I know a bit more about that startling shape study you designed! It is stunning!

  2. Great write-up Tara, well done. Love to hear your honest thoughts.
    And had a great weekend with you – when I saw you, LOL! Thank you for everything.

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