Kasilof artist Paula DiPaolo won first honorable mention at the Alaska Watercolor Society 33rd Annual Juried Exhibition for her piece titled "Geared Up."
The Kenai Peninsula is known for its outdoor wealth: Cook Inlet, the rivers, the fish and wildlife. Now local watercolorists are doing their part to bolster the fame of our part of the state.
Of 115 watercolor entries for the 33rd annual Alaska Watercolor Society Statewide Juried Exhibit, juror Carrie Burns Brown chose 46 three of those are central peninsula artists.
Other peninsula artists with pieces selected for the show include Elizabeth Hatton of Moose Pass, and Elizabeth Petersen of Homer, who won second place for "Landing."
Paula DiPaolo of Kasilof took first honorable mention for "Geared Up," Soldotnan Donna Schwanke's "24 Peppers" was selected, as was "Red Tulips" by Margaret Reilly of Kasilof.
"This is the first time I've had a piece accepted, so I was pretty excited," Reilly said.
Kasilof artist Magaret Reilly also had a piece selected for the show, "Red Tulips."
She's entered work before in her 11 years as a watercolorist, but she said she was particularly honored to be accepted this year, as the show will hang at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center through Nov. 18.
"It's really exciting," she said.
Reilly said she is proud of the showing her peninsula peers made. In recent years, the Alaska Watercolor Society has opened the show to a wider pool of entries.
"Now it's been opened up nationally, so I think that's pretty great that the peninsula is putting out some pretty nice artwork," Reilly said.
Sue Zajac, vice president of the society and another showing artist, said she is impressed with the exhibit this year.
"Shows a great deal of skill. The Alaska Watercolor Society is a group of purists," Zajac said. "Watercolor is any medium that mixes with water, but most of these artists use real watercolor."
Reilly attended the exhibit opening in Anchorage, though she didn't get to hear the juror speak. She said she was pleasantly surprised by the variety of pieces and that there was a range of work from abstracts to detailed work. She described her own work as largely influenced by her teacher, Cindy Brabec-King.
"She's known for her detail and kind of dramatic pieces. She emphasizes a lot of dark colors. I'm still at that point where I'm still using a lot of her influence in my art, kind of trying to break out a little bit and find out who I am as an artist," she said.
One of Brabec-King's pieces "Honey Bea, Pikes St. Market," took first place honors in the show.
Reilly's influence and inspiration are evident in her piece, "Red Tulips."
"Nature is my inspiration. I do see a lot of beauty in the things that are around me. And I think that's where taking the watercolor class has really kind of opened up my world. I saw things a lot differently within just a few classes. I could see negative spaces and interpret colors better, and it just brought everything into more detail," she said.
"I was explaining this to my art instructor and she said, 'I kind of apologize for that. You have a hard time seeing the whole big picture now, everything becomes details.'"
Reilly and Zajac encourage people who are interested in watercolor to gather with like-minded people. Zajac suggests looking for artist associations or groups that meet regularly as a means to find inspiration in discussion.
Zajac said the society offers exhibits, workshops and speakers. The Web site www.aks.org includes a calendar of events and workshops across the state. She said she would be happy to see peninsula residents join the society for its monthly meetings in Anchorage, which incorporate dinner and a speaker, like Steve Gordon, Charles Gause, Barbara Lavallee and Gail Niebrugge.
The meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the Sourdough Mining Company. Those interested should check the Web site for more information.
That may not work for everyone, though.
Reilly suggests taking a class.
"Right now, I think there's watercolor taught at the (Kenai Peninsula) College, and I would just encourage anybody, any art that they can get into. It will totally change the way they cook their dinners, it'll change the way they dress. It just totally changes your world," Reilly said.
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