gmhTODAY 01 gmhToday Mar Apr 2015 - Page 94

south santa clara valley world of art The Next Chapter M organ Hill artists Jeff and Wendy Sprague share the all-American romance story of boy meets girl and they fall in love. At the age of fourteen, these two neighbor kids met. They dated through high school, and then parted ways for a few years. They reunited, married and raised a family. Today Jeff and Wendy— now empty nesters—are on the verge of an exciting new chapter in their lives. Here is where that part of their story begins. She picks up her brush. Water slowly drips from the tip. Then she swirls it as bits of blue pigment sweep across soft nubby cotton paper. She pauses, thinking for a moment. An image begins to appear as each stroke is pulled over and over. More colors are added, dabbled on—red, magenta, yellow—but more importantly, it’s what isn’t placed on the paper that gains importance. It’s the white blank spaces— either by accident or intent that lend to 94 watercolor’s unique characteristics. You have to allow the paint to dance around in little puddles until it settles into distinct rings often ending in happy surprises. You then add more translucent colors that look like tiny stained glass windows. These complex thin layers give depth to images that can’t be replicated with opaque paints. This is something that draws Wendy to watercolors. She was an artist long before she and Jeff met, but she hasn’t always pursued her love of painting. In fact at a very early age she almost gave up due to a negative experience with a teacher in the fourth grade who criticized her work. “I pretty much left art behind for years and would just occasionally pick up a drawing book and start sketching. When my son was in seventh grade I decided to take a watercolor class—my first. I thought watercolor looked so fresh and lovely and would be easier than another medium,” G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MARCH / APRIL 2015 Written & Photographed By Laura Wrede said Wendy. She soon discovered how difficult it was to master the craft. “I studied every Monday at University Art under Oneida Hammond for about nine months while my child was in school. The following year I decided to start art classes at West Valley College in hopes of studying watercolor.” She went on to earn an art degree and also taught art lessons, but ironically never did take another water- color class. As a busy stay-at-home-mom, life seemed to always get in the way of her art in one way or the other. While she always pursued it in some manner, she never really did so on a professional level. That is changing in this new chapter of her life. Wendy started exhibiting and selling her work a few years back when her only son left for college. She placed her work in local venues around Morgan Hill and Gilroy and attended local street fairs. Her last display was at First Street Coffee in Gilroy. Jeff, a gmhtoday.com