Watercolorist Bobbie Buckingham showed grit on the soccer field. She loved to slide tackle competitors while playing throughout the south on her traveling women’s team. In another life, she translated that collaboration and discipline into her elementary school classroom. Buckingham taught in Leon County schools for 37 years. However, her very first aspiration is the role she fulfills now as an artist.
“I always knew I could draw,” says Buckingham. “I began with colored pencils after I retired. I have a friend who encouraged me to try watercolors and the rest is history.”
Buckingham’s work will be exhibited as part of the Tallahassee Watercolor Society’s annual Brush Strokes exhibit. This is an exhibition curated by the Council on Culture & Arts for the City of Tallahassee’s Art in Public Places program, which open September 25th.
Buckingham says art is a gift she was given by her parents. Her mother became an accomplished oil painter by her mid-70s, and she came to find out that her father dabbled in watercolors during his college days. Her mother’s painting of a tufted titmouse is still part of Buckingham’s collection. The painting won an honorable mention at a state fair and was a source of pride for her mother. Buckingham also has a flower painted by her father, forever immortalized in watercolor.
“I get to play with the talents I received from both of them,” says Buckingham. “It’s deeply satisfying to be able to put something down, and I am still amazed that I can do what I’m doing.”
Though Buckingham started with colored pencils, she has used many transferrable skills in watercolor. The waxy surface of the pencils can be layered to achieve a similar transparency in paint. She says a particular challenge in using watercolor however has been gauging the opacity of each color and how it will stain the paper.
The first picture Buckingham rendered in colored pencil was of a young boy wearing a NASA baseball cap, titled “A Look at the Future.” She entered the piece into her very first exhibition at the Tallahassee Senior Center and ended up winning Best in Show. Submitting her watercolor work into the Tallahassee Watercolor Society’s annual Tri-State Show in 2018 gave her another nudge of encouragement.
“I painted a puppy and out of the three paintings I submitted the puppy was the small picture that got in,” says Buckingham. “That puppy really is what changed my view of myself as an artist. It’s interesting how things push you along the way and guide you.”
Though she is relatively new to watercolors, Buckingham always incorporated art into her lesson plans as a teacher. She would use art breaks as a release for her students in the gifted classroom, and create activities related to their studies. A mathematics lesson on measuring angles could quickly transform into an exploration of folding paper and cutting out six-sided snowflakes.
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