Washougal Watercolorists show opens Friday

Watercolor wonder

Senior citizens with varying levels of artistic experience are discovering or rediscovering the joy of creating watercolor paintings. A free class is taught by volunteer Nancy Ryan, Mondays, at 1 p.m., in the Washougal Community Center, 1681 “C” St.

Ryan describes herself as a self-taught artist. She studied drawing and earned a bachelor’s degree at Syracuse University. Ryan has also taken many workshops and classes in the San Francisco Bay area and has received awards.

She began painting 30 years ago and has been in many shows. This year, Ryan taught a class at Elida Field’s studio, in downtown Camas. Some of her work is currently on display at Ballard & Call, a gallery and fine art store, also in downtown Camas.

Ryan described the “Washougal Watercolorists” as a special group of women.

“Many began, never having painted, and are now creating amazing works of art,” she said. “It is really my honor to work with them. I enjoy their willingness to try whatever I propose and not worry about ‘doing it right.’

“I love sharing my skill and passion for watercolor with this group,” Ryan added. “I think together we’ve created a safe space to grow as artists.”

The watercolor class began in October 2011, after she walked into the Washougal Community Center and asked Camas-Washougal Loaves and Fishes Center Manager Wanda Nelson about volunteer opportunities.

“I asked if I could maybe teach something,” Ryan said. “She said, ‘what can you teach?’ I said, ‘watercolor’ — never having taught it before. She said, ‘great! I’ve been looking for a watercolor teacher. Can you start next week?’ and off we went.”

Dolly Jendro, of Washougal, has been attending the art class since January.

“I have made some wonderful friends,” she said. “It is a very positive experience. Nancy is so talented and generous. She is very encouraging.

“She shares her expertise,” Jendro added. “Nancy has Parkinson’s, and she is an inspiration to all of us.”

Alice Colleen Olsen, of Washougal, has no experience in watercolors, but she enjoys painting seascapes, shorelines and leaves.

“The group is a very gracious group of women from all walks of life,” Olsen said. “Nancy is very creative. She shares her talent and knowledge.”

The class is also open to men, but space is limited. The students purchase their own painting supplies.