by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
Hidden under the canopies of Tallahassee, a collective of community artists gather to celebrate one major unifying trait — their love for watercolors.
The Tallahassee Watercolor Society (TaWS) originated in the 1980s as a regional water media organization, and it has since continued to offer monthly classes and workshops aimed at providing its members with quality support and art education.
Throughout September, TaWS highlights the work of its members in one of two annual events, the Brush Strokes Member’s Exhibition at City Hall, which opens Sept. 7.
“I’ve gained a lot of great friends who share a love of watercolor,” says Marty Holland, a full-time member, and part-time volunteer. “I’ve learned a lot of techniques. You know I’ve been doing this for my whole life, doing art, and I learn new things every time we go to the meetings … You gain (knowledge) and you gain some real friends. It’s a good warm group of people with like-minded interests.”
A seventh-generation native Floridian, Holland grew up in Chiefland and made his move to Tallahassee to attend Lincoln High School. He is at home amongst artists and has been since a young age. His father was a painter and the editor of their family-run newspaper.
Holland recalls his earliest works, “I’ve always doodled and drawn… I started with a pencil. Growing up I was drawing comic book stuff and army stuff … [My Dad] always did oils and later on, he did acrylics. I was not one to get in the competition, so I stayed away from that and I mainly focused on pen and ink.”
Holland says he never thought that he’d become a commercial art graphics designer. He confesses that he decided to get an associate’s degree in art from Tallahassee Community College because it was easy, but soon transferred to Florida State University and changed his focus to political science and history.
That change landed him at the Department of Revenue as an illustrator. A larger shift came in the mid-1990s when art started to be digitized.
Click here to learn more about the Tallahassee Watercolor Society.
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