The Skinny-dippers, watercolor by Angela Fehr 1999

On Saturday, I dropped off my Freckled Orchids painting at the art gallery. I’ve entered it in the Peace-Liard Regional Juried Art Exhibition, this year held in Fort St. John, BC. Artists from six communities in the Peace-Liard region of British Columbia take part in this annual competition. This is the first year in a while that I’ve had something worthy of entry in the show that is also framed and ready to exhibit – I always underestimate how long it will take me to prepare for these events!

While searching for a box of appropriate size and shape for the large framed watercolor, I found my “art-chives” – a virtual history of my artistic journey from the past ten years. I sorted through it all, and slimmed down the collection a bit. I don’t have much art from my childhood, because we moved frequently, and so I do keep my old sketchbooks, rejected paintings and experiments in different artistic mediums and techniques.

As I leafed through the stack, I experienced a variety of emotions:

  • Recognition: a stack of pen & India ink drawings, a textured handmade printing plate
  • Embarrassment: my attempts at colored pencil portraiture at the age of nineteen – I can’t believe I actually gave some as gifts!
  • Awe: a series of charcoal sketches from a figure drawing class, and a lovely little pencil drawing of my hand

I posted the above painting from the art-chive box. This one I painting in 1999, after I’d been painting “seriously” for about a year, and I still think the kids look pretty good – the background still has glued-down salt from a failed attempt at the salt technique, and towards the end I stopped using pthalo blue exclusively and added some dreadful grey around the figures.

It was fun to go through the box, which I hadn’t opened in several years. And I think it was a good time to do it – I’ve been wanting to do more sketching, and seeing my past successes is a good impetus for that. There’s no rule that says I need to stick solely with watercolor, and my past work is a good reminder that I can do whatever I feel like doing at the time. So…I’m off to continue doing “whatever” today – though I think that’s watercolor, but maybe on watercolor canvas, instead of paper.