YOU. ARE. AN. ARTIST!
My name is Nancy Riedell. I have been a watercolor artist now for 13 years. I am a native Californian, originating from Santa Cruz, and now living in Portland, Oregon. I have been in Portland for nearly three years and, I must admit, I am very homesick for my native state. My art has been on display in several venues throughout the SF Bay region. However, upon my arrival to Portland, I have found it difficult to enter the art scene here. So, I'm heading back in a few months.
People always ask me, Why watercolor? And, How did you get started as an artist? First of all, I have been an artist for most of my life. I loved drawing and painting as a child and was very much encouraged to continue this love throughout my adolescence and into my adulthood by my family. I majored in art in high school and the first two years of college. Midway through, I changed my major to creative writing and minored in art.
In 2004, once my kids were grown and starting lives of their own, I decided to take a watercolor class at the local community center. Very excited to begin my new journey in the art scene, I went to the community center/ walked up to the classroom, and discovered the door was locked. As I was walking back to my car completely frustrated, I met up with another woman who also had signed up for the class. We both waited about 20 minutes assuming the instructor was running late. Since she had a cell phone and I didn't, she called the office and found out that the instructor had cancelled the class and did not contact the students (turns out, we were the only ones who had signed up). Luckily, my friend had heard of a watercolor class being held at the local community college and that there were still a few openings. So, we headed there and signed up. I fell in love with watercolors. I loved how the paint danced In the water. It was mesmerizing.
In 2006, both my friend and I attended Jan Hart's * watercolor workshop, On the Trail of Georgia O'Keeffe, in New Mexico. Jan is a watercolor instructor and has taught thousands of students over the years. Her class had about 25 students and I must admit, I felt very intimidated as I realized not only what an incredible artist Jan was, but how many people there were whom I felt were far better than me. In one session, Jam had us paint from reference photographs that she had taken over the years. I chose one of a tree and was very intently painting when Jan called out that she wanted us to display our paintings in the front of the classroom so she could critique them. Critique them?! How mortifying, I thought. I am usually a quiet and reserved person and being cast out in front of a group of people is something I strive to avoid. But there we all sat while Jan scanned each painting with her laser pointer, discussing the best aspects of the painting and what the student could do to improve upon it. Each painting looked almost exactly like the photograph that it represented. Then she came to mine. Drawing a circle with her laser pointer around my painting (see above photo), she exclaimed "And I want to know WHO did this one?" Oh God! I'd sooner die. How can I get out of here and go hide? Begrudgingly and cautiously, I raised my hand and said quietly "I did." For sure, I thought, I'd get a tongue-lashing for doing a terrible job and not having the painting look exactly like the reference photo. Then she said in a rather loud voice: "I. LOVE. THIS. PAINTING! YOU. ARE. AN. ARTIST!" She then proceeded to explain to the class how I took a reference photo and made a painting entirely different. She went on about how I used bold colors, expressive lines, and that I made it my own. Indeed, my painting stood out among the others. No one's painting looked like mine. I was stunned! Fellow students then chimed in and told me how my painting made them feel. One woman admitted to me that my painting brought tears to her eyes! Tears, egad, it's a tree!
It was this experience that catapulted me into the art world. That workshop was by far the best workshop I've ever taken. It was worth every penny. And what's interesting is that I took it 11 years ago and I can still hear those words ringing in my head. It really helps when I'm down and out and convinced that I'm the worst artist in the world (never mind that I've shown throughout the country and have won two awards).
Currently, I am in the process of rediscovering myself and my art. I am in a phase that, for lack of a better term, I'm calling Going Dark. I am not in any shows right now, I am between websites, and I'm not sending out my usual monthly newsletter. However, once I get a website up and running, I intend to restart the monthly newsletter. If you are interested in signing up for a newsletter, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact me through this site.
For more information on Jan Hart and her workshops, please Jan's website at: Jan Hart .