There are no mistakes in watercolor, only happy accidents.
Such is the mantra of Woody Duncan, a retired 28-year middle school art teacher and artist. Duncan’s work is included in the 51st Annual New Mexico Watercolor Society’s Fall Exhibition which will debut virtually this year at nmwatercolorsociety.org. The show runs through Oct. 31. Jurors chose 120 artists out of 312 who submitted their work.
Duncan’s piece “Brother’s Advice” shows two siblings sitting on a French Quarter sidewalk, one of them wielding drumsticks. The painting gestated from regular visits to New Orleans.
“I shot pictures of street musicians,” the Albuquerque painter said. “These boys were sitting on a curb.
“I assumed they were brothers,” he continued, “and the younger one was listening very intently, which to me, told a story.”
Duncan says he grew up with a passion for art, taking every art class he could in high school.
“But then I had to work,” he acknowledged.
The artist moved to Albuquerque 16 years ago after falling in love with New Mexico’s magical light.
He loves the fluid nature of his watery medium.
Duncan’s daughter-in-law once asked him to teach his grandchildren and their classmates because they had no art teacher in their rural Kansas school. A local newspaper reporter heard about the event and asked the kids what they had learned.
“They said, ‘There are no mistakes; there are only happy accidents,’ ” Duncan said. “I was proud. You learn to go with what happens.”
Clovis-raised Jay Leutwyler paints landscapes and buildings, including the Heritage Farm at the Albuquerque Bio Park and an aging barn near Willard.
“I like to paint what I call ‘disappearing New Mexico,’ ” he said, “the scenes and places that might not be around longer as we gentrify.”
Leutwyler credits a junior high school art teacher with converting him to watercolor.
“I’ve been an artist and a musician my entire life,” Leutwyler said. “Since I was 4 years old, I’ve been playing the piano and drawing pictures.”
Loving the spontaneity of watercolor, he never wanted to do anything else. He appreciates the happy accidents. He can either follow the drip’s prompt, or toss the work in the trash.
Albuquerque’s Carol Carpenter brought a watercolor still life of daffodils inspired by Presbyterian Hospital’s “Daffodil Days” annual fundraiser. She comes from three generations of women artists.
“That was my mother’s tea set,” she said of the composition. “It’s sitting on my buffet. The yellow and blue-grey worked very well together.”
Carpenter donates a painting to the hospital annually.
“They think they’re calming,” she said.
“Every once in a while, I’ll get a note from a family in intensive care (saying) that it was soothing to them,” she continued. “What a gift, being able to make somebody comfortable. They keep asking me every year.”
Carpenter learned about painting while attending art classes with her mother as a small child.
“I just thought that every mom was an artist,” she said. “I would draw the figures.”
When she began painting in New Mexico, she headed to the pueblos.
“I would take hundreds of photos,” she said. “It was just overwhelming; the light, the color on those buildings was just incredible for me.”
She usually begins with drawings to map the composition. Painting silver can be tricky.
“It’s a combination of your lights and darks,” she said. “You want to have that light come through. Mainly, it’s going with the reflection of the flower. You have to have a lot of the white and the paper; you see little flickers.”