Fine Art Today traveled to rural eastern North Carolina for a chat with accomplished watercolorist Pat Holscher, whose pictures of seagulls, pelicans, and more feel right at home next to the Pamlico River.
The character and individuality of birds have fascinated and inspired some of history’s greatest minds. John James Audubon sought to meticulously categorize all the birds of America, while Leonardo da Vinci was nearly obsessed with how birds take flight. For artist Pat Holscher, the maritime birds native to eastern North Carolina have provided endless enjoyment and, more recently, artistic inspiration.

Pat Holscher, “Harvey,” watercolor on gessoed paper, (c) Pat Holscher 2015.

Pat Holscher, “Heads Up!,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 20 x 30 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015.

Immediately noticeable in Holscher’s work is the fluidity of the watercolor’s application, which displays a vibrancy and vivid saturation of blended, runny color. Holscher prefers working on gessoed paper, which allows her to achieve this desired effect. The gesso, in addition to reducing the absorbency of the paper, allows the colors to sit on the surface, resulting in stronger hues. The gesso also leaves a textured finish on the paper, a feature Holscher loves to use to enhance her subjects’ naturalism.

Pat Holscher, “Plover Playtime,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 11 x 15 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015.

For Holscher, a watercolor begins with a connection. Using photography as a means to capture a bustling flock of birds, Holscher selects one bird that displays a certain individuality of character and pose, whom she calls “the show stopper.” This bird could be used a number of times in different pictures, but typically forms a vital part of the composition, inviting the viewer into the piece. Holscher also includes a number of other birds in her paintings, creating a rhythmic play and kinetic movement that adds vitality and visual interest. One truly gets a sense of the coordinated movements that birds can make as they eagerly await the next piece of bread or fish to come their way.

Pat Holscher, “Running in Circles,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 15 x 35 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015.

Pat Holscher, “Family Dynamics,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 26 x 41 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015.

 Although the birds within paintings such as “Geese Headed South” and “Heads Up” haven’t always been her subjects, they have gripped the regional market and earned Holscher national and international recognition. Works by Holscher can be found up and down the North Carolina Intracoastal Waterway. The Village Gallery, The Carterate Contemporary, and The Lemonade Gallery are only a few of the establishments that carry Holscher’s work. In 2008, Holscher won first place in the Watercolor Society of North Carolina’s Annual Exhibition. The American Watercolor Society awarded the Gold Medal to Holscher’s “Family Dynamics” in 2009. Works by Holscher have also been juried into the Shenzhen Watercolor Biennial in China the last two years.
To learn more, visit Pat Holscher.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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