Watercolorist Denise McFadden dabs a drop of bright blue onto her paper and watches admiringly as it wanders across the field of white.
“I love the way water paints itself,” she says. “The water does its own thing. I have no control.”
But then McFadden exercises a little control. She tilts the paper this way and that, urging the rivulet of color to flow down the curving back of a graceful pelican. She picks up a brush and spreads some of the blue into yellows and reds, darkening hues and blurring lines. She snaps her brush at the page — and smiles at the sudden spatter of colorful dots.
Those fascinating dots and smears are pointing the way toward a future artistic phase that McFadden feels coming on, she said: slightly abstract, deeply textured landscapes. That will be a change after spending the past year focused on painting the seabirds that McFadden and her husband sight, and he photographs, while the couple hikes the Oregon Coast. They go over there a lot, McFadden said — both to birdwatch and to deliver her paintings to galleries in Yachats, Seaside and Bandon, where they sell well.
But the great thing about being a working artist isn’t selling, said McFadden, who added that she probably breaks just about even on sales and expenses. No, she said, the great thing is when you know your vision has touched someone.