An Emerging Artists’s Journey: Carla Scheidlinger

At 66 years of age, I decided that I was going to get serious about watercolor painting. I am a biologist, having built a consulting practice in the restoration of natural habitats.  I had been dabbling for years, mostly en plein air and often on site at my projects, using little sketchbooks. 

I decided to take a six-week watercolor workshop and had no idea what I was getting into.  What I did get into was challenges, new methods and “tricks”, fine critiques, and a few critical rules. I quickly learned that I had a lot to learn about value studies and how to graduate to larger size paintings.

After 6 weeks, everyone who looked at my paintings (OK, that was just my family and some Facebook friends…) said “Wow, you have really evolved!” And I had. After another 6 weeks, I was encouraged to join SDWS and to submit paintings to shows. So, I joined. And I submitted. And my work was accepted!

It would be hard to overstate just how exciting it was to get the first notice of acceptance. It was in a plein air show, kind of a natural for me. I was thrilled to be invited to the reception, and even more thrilled to see my work on the wall with “real” artists. I was hooked.

I kept painting, and kept submitting, and sometimes I was accepted and sometimes I was not. But I kept at it. “Intermittent positive reinforcement” is a powerful motivator, and so it was for me. When I felt a little stale during the pandemic, I signed up for a virtual on-line course focusing on landscapes that transformed my painting style even more.  

I was inspired to submit a painting in the SDWS Members Plein Air show and received an Honorable Mention award from no less a person than Eric Rhodes, the publisher of PleinAir Magazine. And to cap it off, that painting sold!

SDWS was extremely influential in getting me from someone who painted when she didn’t have anything else to do to someone who actively carves out time to paint. Membership is worth it! If you aren’t a member, you can’t enter shows. If you don’t enter shows, you won’t get exhibited. If you don’t get exhibited, you will never know the thrill of feeling like you too are a “real” artist. And if you don’t feel like a “real” artist, you are unlikely to grow as one. So just do it!

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