Submitted by Angela Wrahtz
Yesterday, our group, Wild Over Watercolor, had its 14th annual meeting but it felt more like the best party ever. Sure, the outgoing Board led by Karen covered highlights from the prior year, and the incoming Board, led by yours truly, previewed goals for the coming year. We thanked Karen and Terry W. for their service for the past four years in key roles as President and Vice President. They got us through the pandemic and more. Everyone thanked Terry S. and me for continuing on as we work on ways to build our leadership team going forward and carry the mantle. Beyond that, though, our meeting was a celebration of the membership and who we are as a group, and that is what I want to share about here.
This kickoff to the new year felt like a special milestone because not only did we see many faces who have been with us from the beginning, but there were many new faces and people to get to know. We have 25 members and most of us were at the meeting. We missed those who were away because of urgent situations at home.
We began with a sumptuous luncheon prepared by our hospitality queen, Nola, who not only envisioned a decadent menu of beautiful food but also prepared the main course, a yummy chicken salad on croissants, with flavorful sides including a spring salad, macaroni salad, nuts, fruits, cheese and meats, and a separate dessert table.
The buffet table as if it were its own piece of art with a beautiful floral centerpiece. Many thanks to you, Nola, and those who helped her, notably Sue, and also those who donated items for the luncheon.
While we munched, we played a “Get to Know You” game in the beginning with a series of almost 50 pictures spread out on a set of long tables. Some were “face cards” and others were pictures of art or had a symbolic meaning, and everyone present got a scorecard with a list of names of the members to match with the numbered pictures.
Terry S., our hardworking secretary and technology specialist, (thank you) introduced our new website on the big screen and walked us through its features where eventually we will have a membership gallery. Months of work went into preparing for this rollout and included the efforts of our webmaster, Karen, and new logo creator (yours truly.) It was a fun collaboration, and now there is a rebranded, engaging, and interactive place for us as a group to communicate with each other for the next decade.
That presentation led us into our next activity which was an introduction on how to create artist “documents” with worksheets I’ve used in actual workshops on the subject. We talked about the difference between an Artist Statement and an Artist Bio and looked at a worksheet designed to prompt an artist who is not necessarily a writer through the task of capturing who they are in a 4-5 sentences for each. The Board’s not-so-secret motive in presenting this activity was to help the members prepare their own statements and bios for inclusion on the website along with a piece of their artwork. We are prepared to assist anyone who needs help completing these documents and offered to work together on them in upcoming GPS (group painting sessions.)
Finally, the last hour was devoted to our members introducing themselves through their artwork. For me, this part of our time together was enormously heartfelt. Each artist was asked to bring a few pieces of their art that they felt represented who they are as artists. Barbara and Jacie did a wonderful job (thank you) arranging the artwork on the stage for us to admire. One by one, we went around the room, and each artist spoke about how and why they paint. It was just such a thing to behold how the words just flowed, how each artist has a set of priorities for what is important to them, and how for each of us it is still an ongoing journey of learning how to express the things that we care the most about.
For me, highlights from this portion of the meeting included how each person described specific ideas about how and why they do art…like Rebecca who said she likes to paint trees without leaves because the underlying structure of things is important to her. The details for her are less important than what the bones underneath give shape to. And then, Ann who talked about not being ready to draft a statement yet because she is undecided and excited to be experimenting and learning new techniques and methods. And Debbie who reflected on the various different media she has explored and how now, in most of her paintings, she “puts it all in there.” Also Virginia who talked about being intrigued by capturing motion in her figurative work. Lastly, Barbara Weeks was especially eloquent in describing that she paints from memories and places she has been; she told us that she doesn’t paint unless she has a moment and a memory she wants to keep and that this is why the details—every detail—is important to her, and that every painting she paints hangs on a wall in her home so she can look at it and remember exactly where she was and whom she was with. Like the rest of the group, for Barbara, each painting is an act of love.
As I wrap this up, I think about who we are at WOW! We are a group of artists and friends who paint together. We have different reasons for why we paint and different approaches to how we paint and how often, but we all share a love of the medium, learning, and sharing what we know, and appreciating each other personally and professionally. WOW! is such a unique group. While there are other fine art organizations out there that serve a wonderful purpose, I believe none is more personable and friendly than ours. As the year moves on, I look forward to getting to know our new people even better and sharing new and meaningful art experiences.