Wonderful Watercolor

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Pat Holscher, “Geese Headed South,” watercolor on gessoed paper, (c) Pat Holscher 2015

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, “Harvey,” watercolor on gessoed paper, (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, “Heads Up!,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 20 x 30 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015
Pat Holscher, “Heads Up!,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 20 x 30 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015
Pat Holscher, “Plover Playtime,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 11 x 15 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015
Pat Holscher, “Plover Playtime,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 11 x 15 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015
Pat Holscher, “Running in Circles,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 15 x 35 in. (c) Pat Holscher 2015
Pat Holscher, “Running in Circles,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 15 x 35 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 birds can make as they eagerly await the next fish or piece of bread to come their way.

Pat Holscher, “Family Dynamics,” watercolor on gessoed paper, 26 x 41 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 her work. In 2008, Holscher won first place in the Watercolor Society of North Carolina’s Annual Exhibition. The American Watercolor Society awarded its Gold Medal to Holscher’s “Family Dynamics” in 2009. Works by Holscher have also been juried into the Shenzhen Watercolor Biennial in China.

Watercolor paintings by Pat Holscher
“Beach Groupies” was chosen along with one other artist’s work to be included in the National Watercolor Society’s 50th Anniversary Exhibition in July 2019. “We were chosen by the North Carolina Watercolor Society to be the two artist representatives from our state,” Pat says. This show is composed of two artists from each state for the National Watercolor Society 50 Stars Exhibition 2020: Stars of the US Watercolor Societies.

To learn more, visit Pat Holscher.

This article was originally written by Andrew Webster and 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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