Published: 9:12 AM, 07/12/2012
During the past two decades, landscape and nature artist Wes Waugh has become one of the state’s most prolific and popular watercolorists.
After a brief hiatus to concentrate on family life, he renewed his artistic endeavors, albeit with a slight twist.
“My last show was in 2008 when I first returned from China,” Waugh said. “After taking a break, I finally got moving again last year. Only this time I’ve added mixed media and oil paintings to my watercolor work.”
Waugh’s new show is called “Natural Forces” and is now on exhibit at Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery. An artist’s reception for the new exhibit will be held at the gallery from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 21.
The new show marks Waugh’s 11th solo exhibit.
“‘Natural Forces’ is a series of new work that marks my return to a more disciplined routine of painting, which includes a continued branching out with regards to media choices that move beyond watercolor,” Waugh said.
Waugh’s last show at Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery was 2008’s “China: Artwork and Images from the People’s Republic.” After that show, he took some time off from painting and teaching to regroup and enjoy life with his two young children.
“I did paint, but in an experimental and rather haphazard manner as time allowed,” Waugh said.
“The new exhibit, on the surface, reflects my continuing connection to a past life studying ecology and zoology at N.C. State University and my interests in the organic elements of the Earth, the visual and aesthetic interplay of mountain shapes, ridges and vistas, and my ongoing fascination with the animal and insect life that inhabits both microcosms and the larger world around us.
“I have a long-standing appreciation of the naturalist artists of years past who went to great lengths to document and inform us scientifically of the amazing features of plants and animals, often in excruciating detail.”
The 35 new paintings in “Natural Forces” find Waugh returning to some subjects, such as Grandfather Mountain, that he has painted in the past. It also includes some paintings of freshwater fish and an oil painting of a dead sharp-shinned hawk, titled “Last Rites.”
“With respect to the processes of making art, ‘Natural Forces’ also implies for me a willingness to let go of predestined expectations regarding how a piece is supposed to turn out, thus, being willing to serve as a guide or sometimes even a bystander as a new work develops,” Waugh said. “There is no quicker way to kill a painting than to hold to rigid ideas or a formula as to how a painting should look. The ability to follow the medium’s lead at times, especially with watercolor, is imperative in having an end result that maintains certain energy and in some ways speaks for itself.
“The Chinese term for this is ‘wu-wei’ and refers to working with the medium as a partner, staying open to all possibilities as a work progresses. ‘Substances obeying their own laws do beautiful things’ is probably my favorite quote from the late watercolor teacher Edgar A. Whitney.”
Another aspect of this exhibit that deserves some attention is the framing of the original paintings by master framer Tim Miller. Miller and Waugh have worked together for more than two decades, and Waugh feels comfortable with Miller putting the final touches on each work of art.
“I’ve never given Tim any framing directions, and he always does a remarkable job complementing my paintings,” Waugh said.
Along with his return to painting, Waugh has also returned to teaching, primarily helping artists with their watercolor techniques in workshops.
“I worked hard this past year to develop several new teaching approaches and models to try and help participants understand and connect with this process on a deeper level,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised that a number of students really seemed to respond to this information and closed the week highly motivated and hungry to keep painting.”
Waugh plans to incorporate some of this information in an upcoming three-day workshop at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum in October.
For more information on the Waugh’s new “Natural Forces” exhibit and artist’s reception, call Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery at (828) 295-0041, or visit http://www.blowingrockgalleries.com.
Blowing Rock Frameworks and Galley is located at 7539 Valley Blvd. in the Food Lion shopping center in Blowing Rock.