Congratulations are In Order
Congratulations to member and Guild President, Linda Verhagen, for being awarded the “Philadelphia Watercolor Society Award” for her painting “A Woodland Intricacy”, above, in the 2020 MidAtlantic Regional Watercolor Exhibition in June. Says Linda:
A bucket list wish was achieved, even during Covid-19! Through the years I have been accepted into many well- known regional and national juried watercolor exhibitions, but have never won an award. I had made this a bucket list item for myself, but lately thought that this was not going to happen for me but was thankful for the many riches and blessings in my life. Despite the coronavirus, the MidAtlantic Regional Exhibition decided to still have the show, but it would only be online still having a separate juror and judge. I was thrilled to find out that my painting was one of a hundred selected out of 450 entries. Then a week later the call came to tell me the really good news. I think I’m still in shock as this painting may be one of the craziest paintings I have ever done, but maybe that’s why it won an award as it is definitely “one of a kind”! At my age all I keep thinking is that Grandma Moses Lives!
Getting Her Start
My first introduction to any art instruction started with a drawing course at an evening adult school in New Jersey and it was love at first stroke. From there I went on to take traditional oil painting lessons with its emphasis on tonal values, shape, and form by painting still life and portraits at a local art association. After that, armed with a portfolio case and drawing materials, I started driving into New York City to attend the Art Students League for life drawing classes.
It was not until my husband and I traveled to East Africa in the 1970’s that I began to discover the subject matter that truly inspired me and that was nature. While my husband was behind a camera for 3 weeks, I was sketching all the animals and new environment we were encountering. Upon our return I started doing animal portraits and nature scenes in pastel. The switch from oils to pastels was basically for practical reasons. Since I was a mother, it was hard to watch over two small children with oil paint, linseed oil and turpentine covering my hands plus dealing with the smell throughout our home.
Showing Her Art
Around this same time we moved into a 100 year old converted carriage house with a large art studio. This is when my entrepreneurial husband told me to start entering some outdoor art shows so that we could take the studio as a tax deduction! Up to this point I had never shown my art in public, lest having any of it framed for sale. So with great trepidation, but being a dutiful wife, I went to the streets with my artwork.
As fate would have it, this became a major turning point in my life. It was from these outdoor art shows that I met many art friends and joined an active 350 member art association, eventually becoming its president for 2 years. And once again for practical reasons I changed my chosen media from pastel to watercolor as the amount of dust from the pastel posed a potential health hazard. Watercolor requires a totally different approach in one’s visual thinking and the transition to it came with much difficulty. However, with great determination, access to a multitude of watercolor workshops, and private lessons from top national watercolor teachers, I became pleased with the results and eventually developed my own style of painting. Over the years I have been accepted into many national and regional art competitions, displayed my work in galleries (now in the Fred Nichols Gallery, Barboursville), and am included in many private collections as well as the UVA Medical Center’s permanent collection.
Linda’s Ties to Central Virginia
I have lived in Glenmore for the past 23 years in the home that my husband and I designed, which of course has a lovely art studio where I paint and can frame my artwork. Despite loving nature so much, I find I don’t like to paint outside where there are too many distractions. I definitely am what is known as a “studio painter”.
As for my approach to painting watercolors, my source of inspiration is nature. But it is the creative process and journey of painting that I find so enjoyable as I do not want to paint a mere copy of nature, but rather a creative work of art. With only a general idea of my subject, I usually begin a painting with a wet-on-wet technique where wet paint is place on wet paper and the paint is allowed to flow freely. It is from these loose forms that I begin to create order out of chaos, not always knowing where the journey will take me. Through the combination of soft and hard edges, strong value contrasts, flowing organic lines, and a tapestry of positive and negative shapes, I hope to transform nature into a new creation and help the viewer experience nature in a new way.Linda Verhagen
Leave a comment for Linda on this webpage, send Linda an email, or seek her out at our next Guild meeting to hare your feelings about her art.