Watercolorists: Painters come to Silverton to celebrate 50th anniversary

April 2016 Posted in Arts, Culture & History
Kara Pilcher

Kara Pilcher

By Kristine Thomas

Growing up, Kara Pilcher believed her older brother was the artist and she was the athlete.

It wasn’t until she was looking for artwork to put on the “blank” walls of her home that she discovered her artistic talents.

“I was newly married and I was at a furniture store looking for artwork and I kept thinking, ‘Oh, I could do that,” Pilcher said, adding she has always enjoyed art.

Eager to learn, she took a watercolor class at Chemeketa Community College. “I liked the class but everything was so controlled,” she said.

Thankfully, she said, a chance encounter at an art store led her to meeting George Hamilton, a teacher with the Watercolor Society of Oregon.

“He invited me to the Oregon Coast to go paint,” she said.

That was 1987, and it was her introduction to the Watercolor Society of Oregon. She’s met lifelong friends while expanding her knowledge of watercolors.

Pilcher has served as the group’s president, taught classes and workshops and taken on other tasks. Her work is shown at Lunaria Gallery in Silverton and other venues.

“When I joined, all my friends had little kids,” she said laughing. “Now, we are grandmas.”

Pilcher along with Jean Lea and Kathy Tiger have planned the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s 50th anniversary. Pilcher is excited to showcase Silverton and the surrounding area to more than 300 watercolor painters.

The event is April 8-9 at the Oregon Garden Resort. While many of the classes are full, there are still events community members can participate in, including viewing the 80 juried paintings at The Oregon Garden Resort, observing or participating in Paint Outs at The Oregon Garden or in downtown Silverton, or taking the Studio Tour of Silverton artists.

What Pilcher enjoys about painting with watercolors is there is an “excuse not to get it right.”

“With oils, you can go over it until you get what you want,” she said. “You can’t do that with watercolors.”

She’s grateful for the encouragement she has received from friends and fellow artists.

Pilcher says her artwork showcases what’s important to her, including dance. When she was a high school Spanish teacher, she organized cultural activities and kinesthetic learning opportunities. She joined the Spanish Pueblo Dancers and later the Power and Praise Dance Company.

For her, whether it’s painting or dancing, is a spiritual connection to the “creator within each of us.”

“When we are creating, we are in touch with God,” she said.

When she looks at the watercolor paintings of her fellow members, she looks for what the artist is trying to express.

“I think what makes something good art is when it evokes a message,” she said. “When it means something to the viewer.”

By being a member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon, she has learned how judges pick paintings, understanding it’s all in the eye of the beholder. She’s met judges who select artwork dependent on the amount of white to ones who judge the painting’s title.

Some of her watercolor paintings are like photographs, reflecting life’s moments such as the  paintings of her hydrangeas, an oak tree outside a former home, her child’s high chair and views of the Willamette Valley.

“When someone asked me to sell them, I said I couldn’t because they are a part of my life,” she said.

She encourages other people who are thinking about trying a new craft to join a group.

“I think when you surround yourself with people who are interested in the same thing, that you learn new skills for your craft, you have friends who encourage you and it makes your artwork fun,” Pilcher said.

By being a member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon, she has friends who share ideas and tools and provide support and critique.

“A group like this just makes you better,” she said. “It’s pretty inspiring to be in a workshop with people who are still trying to learn.”

Visit www.watercolorsocietyoforegon.com to learn more about Watercolor Society of Oregon and to view its spring conference schedule.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.