The Hood River County Library doesn’t let a little thing like complete upheaval interrupt its regular programs for long. Local art is once more finding its way to the walls of a long hall connecting the several rooms housing library materials at temporary quarters in the old Sprint Building on State Street.
After an interesting display of Dream Catchers created by the students of Klahre House, the hall walls were hung with a collection of 143 Peace flags created by various members of the community during the first annual Hoodstock Celebration at the Hood River Marina. That celebration was sponsored by the Columbia Gorge Fellowship for Peace.
During the month of November, local artist Karen Watson will display nine of her vibrant pastel paintings in the library. Watson works as a nurse at the Family Birth Center in Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.
In only three years, Watson has won an honorable mention at the Hail Mid-Columbia art show and first place at The Dalles Art Center garden show. She captured an honorable mention and a second place at The Artists of the Gorge show in Stevenson, Wash., where she has participated twice.
She has sold a number of paintings in the Hood River Valley, and has work hanging in The Frame Shop and at The Columbia Art Gallery. She will hang a show at The Dalles Art Center in May.
Watson studied art for two years at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
“But I wasn’t serious enough about my art at that time,” she said. “I transferred to nursing school, married, and had a family. Then, at age 40, I suddenly began to create art very seriously indeed.”
Watson credits the beginning of this artistic rebirth with her attendance for one week at Camp Menucha in Corbett, where for seven days straight she immersed herself in art.
“It was wonderful,” she remembered. “No responsibilities, no cooking, no school schedule, no job except to create art.”
A pastel teacher at the camp opened the world of color to Watson, who had previously concentrated her efforts on large neutral-toned representations of the human figure.
“I love pastels. I am an impatient person, and pastel work goes quickly,” she said. “I don’t know another medium where you can achieve such rich and vivid colors.”
Watson gathers many of her images from photographs she has taken or friends have supplied, and sometimes blends several images together for a new effect. Watson took lessons from Judith Cunningham last fall.
“A lot of artists seem to want to convey messages in their work,” said Watson. “I can’t claim to be that complex. I just do my art because it is joyful, fun, and a great way to express myself. It helps me escape from everyday cares.”