Before she was a professional artist, Sylvia Jackson assisted art teachers at Parker High School in Janesville, Wisc.
The extensive art department had potter’s wheels and kilns and various rooms for drawing, painting and sculpting. One of her duties was to work with students in their labs as they used the equipment. She also helped teachers prepare projects for class.
Another of her jobs was to find films in the library that teachers ordered for their classes, schedule their show times and take those films to the local television station, which would broadcast the films for the classroom. Then, she would return the films to the library.
While the films were being shown, she practiced drawing.
Now, as a successful watercolor artist with a studio in the Pendleton Art Center, she still values practice.
“It takes time and practice,” she said. “You have to get to know the paint you use and the paper you use and how they react to teach other.”
Watercolor is considered the most difficult medium because it’s more difficult than oil or acrylic to make changes or corrections and it requires the artist to plan ahead, leaving blank the areas that ultimately will be white.
Jackson said many have the wrong idea about the difficulty of watercolor.
“Watercolor is very difficult to control at times and so it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you actually get something to turn out,” she said.
She said to use watercolor, it’s important to be “loose” and not try to control the paint but to let it do what it does and then work with the results.
In addition to having a studio in the Pendleton Art Center, Jackson teaches drawing at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and, along with fellow Pendleton artist Janet Lester, watercolor at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays. She and Lester team taught watercolor painting at the Ashland Area Art Gallery before their class at the Pendleton.
Although Jackson does not have an art degree, she has studied art at Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., the University of Wisconsin in Madison and through various vocational schools, extension classes and workshops. She said the value of studying art is enormous.
“Art education is very, very important,” she said. “It teaches you to be creative and to see things differently and it helps you approach problems creatively instead of taking a black-and-white approach. It helps you be more creative in everything you do.”
Jackson considers her career a journey into art, first learning to draw and then adding color to her drawing and trying various media until arriving at watercolor, her favorite form of painting.
“I believe strongly in starting your journey with a few, or many, lessons in drawing,” she said. “Drawing is the key to being able to express feelings in your artwork and being able to capture your subject, whether it is of people, places or things.”
As the Pendleton’s featured artist for February, Jackson has displayed her works in pencil and charcoal, colored pencils, watercolor and mixed media. She also shows some of the pieces she did during instruction in watercolor classes.
Even spending time looking at art can be beneficial, she said, especially at the Pendleton Art Center.
“There are so many different artists with different styles,” she said. “Each artist here looks at things differently and expresses things differently and as you go through the Pendleton, you will be able to see that.”
Also during today’s First Friday art walk:
‰Aladdin’s Art Gallery will have its Art From the Attic sale. The gallery is at the corner of 13th Street and Lexington Avenue.
‰“Breath of Legend,” an exhibit by Jessica Brooks, Sharon Schmutz, Renee Schmutz-Sowards and Courtney Thompson, continues at the Thoroughbred Gallery, 1430 Winchester Ave.
‰The Upstairs Gallery, at 1428 Winchester Ave., will be open for the art walk.
‰The Frame-Up Gallery, at 1436 Winchester Ave., shows the art of Al Cornet.
LEE WARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2661.