Many ways exist to paint a flower, but, to Michael Pearson, there's something special about seeing a rose in full bloom painted in watercolor.
The Beaufort artist has painted in many art forms, but she always comes back to watercolor. Her latest exhibit, "Kaleidoscope," opens Aug. 5 at the Beaufort Art Association.
Pearson got her start in the design world, studying fashion illustration at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and working professionally in the commercial art and advertising industries.
She and her husband Bob moved frequently due to his Army career, meaning she's taken up the cause of watercolors across the country. She's served as president of the Hawaii and Georgia watercolor societies and was the regional director for the S.C. Watermedia Society.
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Pearson explains why watercolors matter.
Question. What's the focus of your new exhibit?
Answer. Primarily I do a lot of large botanicals, but people may be surprised with some of the other work. I paint in watercolor because I love it. I love how watercolor treats flowers. It's transparent media on translucent petals.
Q. How do you get your ideas? Do you frequently work from photographs?
A. I do carry a camera. I don't do a lot of plein air painting because I tend to work larger and that's difficult outside. I do some sketching plein air because it is an important exercise. But I may use 10 to 12 photographs as a reference. Because of my illustrative background, I like things to be precise.
Q. How did you get started in art?
A. Well, I started in fashion illustration. I worked in advertising and design for about 13 years. I was the first female sign designer in the country. I have to thank my first name for that. A little surprise for them. I worked for a large electrical sign company. It was fun to design something in a 1/32th of an inch and see it 32 feet long on top of a building.
When we moved to Kansas, I took up watercolors. After being so precise in my work professionally, I wanted to get a bit looser in my style. I ended up taking a lot of classes and hearing a lot of people speak about watercolor. When you live in Hawaii, which was our next stop, you get a lot of people who want to come to Hawaii and teach. I started about 35 years ago and never looked back. I do try other forms of art, but I always come back to watercolor.