Red Bluff gallery featuring watercolor work by a local couple – Red Bluff Daily News – 71Bait

When artists Julian and Karen Alexander retired from their medical professions, they searched for a new direction and focus in their lives, and this has led them on a life-changing journey through their incredible watercolor art, each featuring wonderful styles of impressionism, Abstract and stylized artworks.

The Alexanders are debuting their paintings as the featured artists in Main Event Gallery’s exhibition “Just Breathe: Seeing Art as a way to Heal” May 12-June 11.

Watercolor painting of Maya Angelou by artist Karen Alexander. (Contributed)

The event, sponsored by the Tehama County Arts Council, is held in partnership with Tehama County’s Mental Health Awareness Month. As part of this, the public along with gallery members were invited to submit art interpretations for the exhibition.

There will be a reception to meet the artists on Friday, May 13 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at 710 Main St., Red Bluff. The opening hours of the gallery are Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Formerly from Red Bluff, the Alexanders are well known in this area where Dr. Julian Alexander practiced as an ophthalmologist and surgeon and Karen as a nurse and manager of her practice.

Karen said she has always loved and been involved with many art forms and while living here she took art classes at Shasta College. Their daughter Megan is an accomplished artist and art student.

“When the pandemic struck and we were in lockdown, we found an art teacher in Chico who ran some Zoom group online watercolor classes that we attended a few times a week,” Karen said. “We could see that we were making progress.”

Julian said he’s never had an interest in being an artist and just doesn’t think he’s got it. But he has always appreciated good art, and especially Karen and Megan’s talents and artistic achievements.

“But I needed something structured for my sanity and sanity during the pandemic, and the art thing looked like it would be fun to try,” Julian said. “It was also very frustrating at times because we were drawing within a time frame in class and I could never quite finish what I had started. But over time I got better and started enjoying it and seeing a difference and progress in how I could actually paint the pictures, so I continued after the course was over.”

The couple then took an online course with instructors from around the world.

“One of the assignments was to draw 30 faces in 30 days,” Julian said. “It was exhausting but also exciting and we learned a lot from this artist community and enjoyed the group community because everyone was involved.”

Practice made the Alexanders everyday painters.

“Our dining table looks like an art studio,” Karen said. “Now I paint every day and Julian almost every day. In between, it’s a place to sit and clear your head while concentrating on your image and not other things around you.”

For the past year, the Alexanders have been painting on their own, each developing their own individual style as they browse websites for ideas from other artists, trying out their styles and seeing what connects them. As they continue, their ideas become more original and paint their version of what they see. They were surprised by the positive reactions they received to their art.

“I do a lot of subjects, but I’m really drawn to portraiture,” Karen said. “Especially paintings of women I admire or who were important in my life.”

Karen has graduated from painting from a photo to translating it into a stylized version of what she sees, and she has enjoyed it immensely. Her images reflect her success in capturing expressions, feelings and a sense of personality in her subjects.

“As I don’t sketch and I like overly bright colors, I prefer impressionistic abstract paintings,” said Julian.

His suggestive brushstrokes and use of color fill his paintings with light, giving them vibrancy and movement.

“Although I don’t paint as much as Karen, I do need the time to sit down and meditate and we chat,” Julian said. “I think I really enjoy it, although I don’t feel like I have a natural talent for it. The process in art was a major shift from unrealistic expectations to a simple acceptance of the process and a willingness to learn. When I was 40, I took piano lessons expecting that I would just learn and be great at it, and that wasn’t the case. Instead, my piano teacher fired me because I wasn’t willing to practice.”

At this point in his life, Julian said it wasn’t easy to pursue things outside of his professional life.

“But now with a different perspective, I just keep pushing and seeing progress in my skills,” he said. “It’s very centering, but it’s humbling. A number of skills take a long time to master, but I have to remember that I’m doing it for my own peace of mind and pleasure.”

Karen encourages anyone interested to try artistic expression.

“It’s not so much about talent as it is about perseverance and a willingness to start over in a class environment,” she said. “It’s a wonderful chapter in our retired lives to have found this.”

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