WOW! Local art group Wild Over Watercolor! still going strong

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Wild Over Watercolor member Karen Berg working on a painting at a WOW! meeting.
Wild Over Watercolor member Karen Berg working on a painting at a WOW! meeting.

Prior to the pandemic, the local art group Wild Over Watercolor – Guild of Artists, also known as WOW!, met regularly at the Tualatin Heritage Center (THC). The big news is that this goldmine of painting talent is back again at the THC, and they invite you to visit them during one of their sessions. 

Most of WOW!’s meetings are held at the Tualatin Heritage Center.
Most of WOW!’s meetings are held at the Tualatin Heritage Center.

Just who is WOW!? They are a watercolor painting group with members at various levels of accomplishment who encourage each other’s progress, provide useful critique, and learn together. They are also an open group, meaning they are accepting new members. 

WOW! is also a success story. Like many organizations at the beginning of Covid, WOW! wondered if they could survive. Could they paint together online and make that work until things returned to normal? Like others groups, WOW! turned to Zoom to stay connected. While meeting online wasn’t always perfect, it was, for some, a lifeline and kept a beating heart going at the core of the organization.

Artist Dianne Hicks of Tualatin, a regular participant in the Zoom sessions, will tell you that not having to carry art supplies to an away location can be a plus, “I like being able to keep my art set up at my art table at home. It’s nice not to break down and set up all the time. And while I had to be careful about not bringing home germs to my family, painting at home and seeing my friends on the computer screen worked for me.” 

Karen Berg, current WOW! President said, “We got a rhythm going, and we look forward to our Wednesday and Friday Zoom sessions. Everyone’s style and creativity come through. We hold up our art to the camera and share it on the screen. Amazingly, we are able to encourage and help each other where it is asked for.” 

Wild Over Watercolor member Terry Witter.
Wild Over Watercolor member Terry Witter.

Artists who adapted to the digital format and met on Zoom not only diminished their isolation and kept up with their friends, but also kept painting and making progress in their art. Meeting online was exactly what some members needed in a dark time, and despite the end of the lockdown, meeting online continues to be a good idea. 

It would have been easy for everyone to go in their own separate directions and for the group to die. It is a testament to a shared passion for doing art and the bonds of friendship that this local art group is still going strong after almost 13 years. 

WOW! Vice President Terry Witter sends out witty weekly reminder notices to the group and recently commented, “Several people, including myself, are feeling we WANT to paint since we can actually see each other in person. There’s something about those smiles that fill the room. The social value of WOW! – camaraderie, laughter, a time for storytelling, information swapping – supports the art mission for developing self-expression and skills.”

So, things are more “normal” again, and WOW! meets again in that cute building next to the Tualatin Police Station. The group generally meets at the THC on the second and fourth Fridays of the month from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. On the first Friday of the month, WOW! continues to meet on Zoom from 3 to 5 p.m. and every Wednesday from 10 to Noon to include those members who want to stick with this format. On the third Friday of the month, WOW! meets in Salem at the Cozy Corner Studio, an art space owned by member Debbie Hornibrook. 

WOW! invites you to drop in as a guest to paint with us in person or via Zoom. For more details, go to www.wowiswatercolor.weebly.com for a calendar, information about upcoming activities, joining info, and more. There you will find the names and email addresses of members you can reach out to if you have questions. 

WOW! is not just a local art group… WOW! is a local success story. It might have disappeared like so many organizations during the pandemic, but the volunteer board’s determination made sure that didn’t happen. If you are a watercolor painter looking for a happy place to create and grow as an artist, check out WOW!