Watercolor is known to many painters as “the masters’ medium.” Unforgiving, surprising and uncorrectable, watercolor requires both planning and spontaneity.
This month’s show at Stable Gallery, in Damariscotta includes two local, talented watercolorists among the featured artists. Every show features artists of diverse media from fabrics to stone to various paint media. This month highlights Jon Luoma and Polly Smith who use watercolor to express their artistic passions.
Winslow Homer was one of the first American painters to use watercolors in vivid landscapes. Andrew Wyeth learned from looking at Homer’s paintings and went on to find his authentic voice, or hand, with watercolors. These painters validated watercolor as a serious medium for collectors and museums alike.
Once thought to be unstable and a medium for society ladies in tennis shoes, watercolor now stays true once dried. The painter must learn to expect a 30% loss of hue with the first drying, another challenge of the medium. ut after that, the color remains.
Through adding multiple color layers from lightest to darkest, the painter can create a work of deep color and resonant beauty. Unlike oil painting, lack of complete control and taking advantage of accidents are a necessary part of watercolor painting.
Varying ratios of pigment and water produce different results on different types of paper. Thus spontaneity and problem solving are required of the artist in action. As Polly Smith says, “Flexibility is part of the creative process watercolor demands. You have to know when to stop or the freshness dissolves in front of you.”
Watercolor can be painted loosely or with as much control as the painter desires. Jon Luoma, trained in traditional Chinese watercolor application, creates very detailed and controlled scenes with his brushes. Polly Smith uses a mix of detail and looseness to depict energy and movement in her scenes.
Stable Gallery includes oil and acrylic painters too. This month Rosalind Welsh, Elaine Abel, and Robert Gibson complete the featured painters. Also featured are Rachiel Norwood (sculpture), Lou Charlett (wood), Jackie Melissas (ceramics), and Fiona Washburn (hand painted textiles).
The Stable Gallery is housed in a 19th-century Victorian stable, just a short walk off Main Street at 28 Water Street in Damariscotta. The gallery is open from 10 to 5 every day. For more information, call 563-1991 or check out their website at stablegallerymaine.com.