Arts and Entertainment

Poster Mom

The winning painting. - RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo
The winning painting.
— image credit: RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo

Neophyte artist Anne Strandoo more than kept her New Year’s resolution to try to get her art exhibited, when she nabbed a top honor on the first try.

Strandoo’s floral watercolor has been selected as poster art for the 2002 Bainbridge in Bloom event, the July garden tour that is the annual Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities fund-raiser.

“I did my artist’s ‘bio’ pretty much just for the experience,” Strandoo says. “I never thought for a minute I’d win.”

However, Strandoo grew up in a household where achievement was a commonplace.

The daughter of a University of Oregon psychology professor, she lived in the Northwest college environment. Then she majored in political science at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

“I had big visions of making a big difference in the world,” Strandoo says wryly.

When she graduated and needed to find a job, she gravitated to commercial art. She earned a degree in interior decoration and “was sidetracked” in that field.

When Strandoo, her husband Robert and their three young children settled on Bainbridge, she determined that watercolors were manageable on the kitchen table – she would be available to her children – and sought out park district watercolor classes with painter John Adams.

Unlike her earlier teachers, whose rigid emphasis on painting technique squelched students’ spontaneity, Adams encouraged all the students’ creativity, Strandoo says.

Adams has attracted a core of students like Strandoo, who come back to take classes every session.

The classes are home to students at every level of competence, and comparing herself to more experienced watercolorists was intimidating for Strandoo at first.

“When I took the beginning class,” she says, “I remember coming home and saying to my husband, ‘I don’t know if I belong there.’”

Now it is Strandoo who makes newcomers feel welcome, and she revels in the multiplicity of approaches students apply to the same subject.

Her husband, parents and even her children are encouraging.

“They’ll say ‘Mom, that’s really good,’” Strandoo says. “Well, they’re little artists themselves.”

Strandoo may get a master’s degree in fine art when her children are older. For now, what’s important is working consistently enough to hang onto her new-found skill. Sometimes family matters intervene, but she tries to keep her hand in, even if she can only look for photographs she will work from later.

“It’s just a funny time in my life,” she says. “My youngest is going to kindergarten in the fall, so I’m going to have more time.

“Painting is one of the only things I’ve found that is ‘for me.’ “I didn’t realize how important that is.”

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