Artists of the Month - May 2017
by Judie Apablaza
Down By the Riverside, Nikki Thomas
Majestic Shadows, Pepe Apablaza
Nikki Thomas is our blue ribbon winner in the “Open” Category. Nikki’s watercolor, titled “Down By The Riverside” was inspired by a trip to Zion National Park. Chuck Kovacic led a group of 40 artists for a return trip to an inspiring location of mountains, rivers, snow and shadows for plein air painting. The change in locations for sunrise and sunset gave an interesting opportunity to also observe other painters at work as well as having hundreds of photos for reference for future paintings.
Plein air offers many challenges, requiring quick work before the paints and the paper dry out. Nikki loves color and she especially enjoyed Joseph Stoddard’s workshop which also offered a wonderful glimpse into learning how to “leave out” or edit elements in a scene in order to build a stronger composition. Nikki has evolved as an artist, enjoying dropping in colors and learning to not over-work her paintings.
Nikki’s work history was in accounting while music has been her joy that continues to this day. Being a multifaceted person, Nikki pursued painting with watercolors, a medium that, while particularly difficult to master, offers the advantages portability and ease of clean up. She is never bored with the many techniques and styles that watercolor has to offer. She incorporating new techniques with a sense of adventure and fun. We are very pleased to have Nikki’s enthusiasm and positive spirit as a team member and leader of the Verdugo Hills Art Association.
Joseph “Pepe” Apablaza was our first place winner in the “Premier” category. His watercolor painting, titled “Majestic Shadows” was an inspiration from just outside Morro Bay State Park. The focus of the painting was a compound-style structure nestled under a grove of ancient oaks and eucalyptus trees. The park was established in 1917 and the structures that caught Pepe’s eye were probably an old ranger station with a lookout tower built just after the turn of the century. The tower has a view of the estuary and boat docks below. The empty lot in the foreground was covered with bright wild flowers that complemented the deep shadows of the trees. California Plein Air painters have been drawn to our non-native Eucalyptus groves for more than a hundred years.
Having worked in Graphics Arts since the 70s, Pepe's formal training at LA Trade Tech and Art Center College of Design prepared him for a career in commercial art in the field of advertising. In retirement, he has dedicated his time to the wonderful and challenging world of watercolor. His watercolor adventure has been inspired by classes and workshops with Fealing Lin, Richard Scott, Tom Fong and others. He has used his photography skills helping the Verdugo Hills Art Association record its events. He has also enjoyed being a member of Cambria Center for the Arts, gaining inspiration on monthly trips to the central coast.
Pepe has been awarded several ribbons through these organizations and feels a sense of camaraderie with fellow artists that encourages him to keep on painting!