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Watercolor painter teaches workshop to local artists

More than 20 women filled the basement at a home south of Bel Air last Wednesday, all anxious to learn the style and techniques of watercolor artist Janet Rogers.

"I fell in love with watercolor 28 years ago and I never looked back," Rogers said at the workshop, which was held at the home of fellow artist Carole Doetsch.

The artist from Ormond Beach, Fla., holds anywhere from 20 to 24 workshops during a year across the country and sometimes at locations overseas. This year, she will be teaching in Greece.

The workshop in Bel Air is the first she's done in Maryland.

Painters of different levels participated in the class that spanned a couple days.

Painting stations were set up and examples of portraits and flowers in vases Rogers had done previously stayed in the middle of the room, a few at each table for people to base their work off of.

The workshop last week was the mastermind of Doetsch and Pattie Stonesifer, two local artists who love teaching and learning from others.

Most of the women used their grandchildren as inspiration, photos taped to the table and emulated on canvas.

Doetsch was painting her granddaughter's portrait.

The subject was 2-year-old Riley whose twin, Skylar, had a portrait done by the grandmother last year.

Stonesifer, who lives in Joppa, was painting a portrait of a friend's late husband.

The project was a tough one for her — not just because of the subject, but also because she was attempting to use Rogers' techniques, which are loose and have a "go with the flow" style.

Stonesifer said she's had years of experience with oil paints and recently branched into watercolors, which she loves even more.

Doetsch called the workshop "such a happening for us artists."

It all started when she and Stonesifer took a class of Rogers' in Delaware last May.

By coincidence, the two found out that Rogers was staying in the room next door and "kind of bonded," Doetsch said.

The artists had dinner and Doetsch got up the courage to ask her to teach a class in Bel Air. She knew the workshop would be filled because of the "pool of people" she teaches every week during a painting class at the Fallston Fire Hall.

"It really changes the way you think about paint," she said of Rogers' techniques. "It's leap of faith painting."

Rogers mainly paints portraits and flowers (her favorite are irises), and feels flowers are harder to do because they are "more abstract."

Watercolor is her medium of choice.

"The way it moves and the transparency, it's like stained glass," she said.

Rogers started out taking classes and drawing lessons since art was a passion as a kid. She also married an artist, whom she met at a watercolor workshop.

After years of painting, she decided to branch out into teaching, as well.

"It's a fulfilling thing to see if someone learns to color change," she said, among other techniques she teaches. "They [the students] are learning a lot."

"She's unbelievable," Joyce Shue, of Churchville, said of Rogers. "Really something else."

Fellow painter Shirley Dixon takes classes with Doetsch and many others at the workshop at a weekly painting class at the Fallston Volunteer Fire Company hall on Thursdays.

Fallston resident Shirley Boats was painting a portrait of her granddaughter, Isabella.

Boats, who normally works with pastels rather than watercolors, called the workshop "a real treat."

After the students had a chance to paint for a while, Rogers gave a demonstration on different colors to use and painting abstract backgrounds for portraits.

Rogers stood at a table in the middle of Doetsch's basement with a mirror overhead so the women could see what she was doing.

Rogers took an almost-done portrait of a boy as an example for color layers and details that make the painting "pop."

A valuable lesson in art — and life — Rogers told the audience, "Don't panic," when mistakes are made.

"No masterpieces," she commented. "You want to avoid looking overworked."

She pushed colors around on the paper and mixed as she went along, working spontaneously. The crowd approved of her work with "oohs" and "ahs."

The students were re-energized after the demonstration and went back to their artwork with renewed vigor.

A grandmother of seven, Audrey Concini, of Bel Air, has done a portrait of each of her grandchildren and was painting granddaughter Olivia that day.

She commented that 8-year-old Olivia's "big bunches of hair" was proving to be difficult to paint.

Though she has worked with oil paints for most of her artistic life, Concini said Stonesifer and Doetsch insisted on everyone looking how to use watercolors and "let us jump in with both feet."

She added that talent seems to come out when "someone you know and love is the inspiration."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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