On March 4th, the Living Room Gallery in the Tualatin Public Library will host a new art show featuring gorgeous watercolor paintings by Harold Walkup, a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, the Northwest Watercolor Society, Western Federation of Watercolor Societies, and the Watercolor Society of Oregon. Harold is a nationally recognized award-winning artist whose works hang in public and private collections throughout the U.S. and around the world. His works have also been featured in “American Art Collector Magazine” (2014) and can be seen in Earthworks Gallery, Yachats, Oregon, and Valley Art in Forest Grove, Oregon.
I first became acquainted with Harold’s work through WSO where I saw it, and, quite simply, it took my breath away. He describes his landscapes as “moody,” and he plays with strong lights and darks, texture, and color to achieve highly atmospheric and expressive paintings that invite the viewer into the story. That is important to him—to connect with his viewers.
Harold says he doesn’t have a list of things you can’t do in watercolor. He elaborated, “You do whatever the painting needs. When I teach, for every question a student asks me, the answer is yes. When they say, ‘Can I…?’ the answer is always yes.”
Watercolor has a bad reputation as a difficult medium because it is hard to control. On the other hand, those who have devoted themselves to painting will tell you, of all media (oil, acrylic, and watercolor), watercolor is in many ways the most flexible and full of possibility. Harold shared a favorite quote by Wolf Kahn, who said, “The best control is no control.” Letting go when painting often takes a leap of faith, and after that, there is no going back. Harold’s paintings demonstrate the best of this philosophy put into practice. His technique is loose and full of flow, and while his paintings are the essence of unrestrained color-mixing and movement on the paper, there is intention, mastery, and control of all elements necessary for a great painting.
When I met with Harold to discuss the installation of his show, he shared a story about a year he spent with his wife in Valencia, Spain. He quickly fell in with local artists who adopted him as a colleague and friend. He also became a cultural ambassador when asked to demonstrate his painting techniques at a meeting where a translator helped to communicate his process in words as he painted in front of them. The organizers expected twenty or so people. Seventy-three artists attended and watched in awe. After the demo, Harold was barraged with questions. They had never seen an artist mix colors on the paper before. Our humble American artist changed how his new friends thought about painting. Since 1913, the Valencia Watercolor Society has only added one painting per year to its permanent collection, and Harold was honored in 2015 to be asked for his demonstration piece to be included in this collection.
You will love seeing the paintings in this exhibition because they are dramatic and fresh. Harold says, “I try not to do the same things everybody else does,” which probably explains all his awards. He takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary and unforgettable. This show will run through to the beginning of June. Plan to say hello to Harold at a “Meet the Artist” informal reception on Saturday, March 12th in the gallery space from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
This program is sponsored in part by the Tualatin Arts Advisory Committee. If you would like to learn more about this program, contact Angela Wrahtz at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in acquiring any of the paintings in the show, please contact the artist at email@example.com or www.artbyharold.com.